Friday, January 18, 2008

The Grand Jury's Oath

When taking the oath the grand juror is a "public servant" as that term is defined in the Texas Penal Code. By this oath, they have sworn to uphold the law, to perform their function according to law, and to keep secret those matters presented to them.

The oath of office required by statute of grand jury followers:

"You solemnly swear that you will diligently inquire into, and true presentment make, of all such matters and things as shall be given you in charge; the State's counsel, your fellow's and your own, you shall keep secret, unless required to disclose the same in the course of a judicial preceding in which the truth or falsity of evidence given in the grand jury room, in a criminal case, shall be under investigation. You shall present [indict] no person from envy, hatred or malice; neither shall you leave any person unpresented for love, fear, favor, affection or hope of reward; but you shall present things truly as they come to your knowledge, according to the best of your understanding, so help you God."

Rules for Reporting to the Community:

"During the term there may be occasions when the grand jury wishes to tell the public about certain objectives or about a particular investigation. The foreperson should be the sole spokesman for the jury when information is released to the news media representatives. Caution and courtesy should be exercised by grand jurors when talking to news media representatives. A news reporter's most vigorous pursuit of freedom of the press does not relieve grand jurors of their legal responsibility to keep grand jury proceedings secret".

I think it's clear that the foreman and assistant foreman better receive some kind of formal sanctions for their speaking on camera and to the press during their term on the grand jury. If they had a problem with the DA they have the power to send for the Texas State attorney and to ask his advice upon any matter of law or upon any question arising respecting the proper discharge of their duties. They could of blabbed like babies in the jury room to the proper people, but they should never have taken their case to the press. I hope they both get a fine and/or jailed or both.

Oh and one other point: "In Harris County, nearly all cases are screened by The Office of the District Attorney prior to the filing of charges. This helps ensure that the evidence will legally show that a criminal law has been violated, that there is probable cause to believe the accused is guilty of that violation, and that there is sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction". One would wonder how on earth the DA would say there wasn't enough evidence in the charges against Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina and his wife. I myself wondered that until I dug out one of my Grand Jury Manuals. Then I read "A felony case may also be initiated by the filing of a sworn complaint by a citizen or a peace officer before a magistrate, such as a justice of the peace". If that was the case in this case, then the grand jury would receive the case without it going through the rigorous screening of the central intake division.

As usual with trying to reach an intelligent conclusion on anything being tried in the press, it's almost as much fun as pissing in the one really know what the grand jury saw/read/heard, but this is definitely unheard of conduct from a grand jury and one that I'm watching with great interest.

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