Reforms Needed for Davidson County Grand Jury

The Tennessean has recently published two articles on some questionable practices of the Davidson County. TN. grand jury. A grand jury's main role is to determine if probable cause exists in order to return an indictment. The concerns were raised by the grand jurors themselves in their final report. One concern from my point of view is the list of speakers that gave a presentation.

  • District Attorney Glenn Funk gave a overview of the role of the district attorney in grand jury proceedings.
  • Members of the Child Sex Abuse unit including a nurse at Our Kids gave a presentation of on sex abuse victims.
  • Nashville DUI officer Brad Nave gave a presentation on DUI cases. Mr.Nave even talked about the 91% accuracy of the standardized field sobriety tests to determine impairment. At the next presentation , I hope he tells the grand jury about a case I had with him on August,1 where he stated the client failed the field sobriety testing yet had zeros across the board for alcohol and drugs.
  • Members of the gang unit, drug task force, and the warrant division as well as Chief Anderson gave presentations.

In the final report, the grand jury expressed concern on preserving independence and avoiding bias. It seems difficult in light of the numerous presentations given during the term of the grand jury. Here is an excerpt from the report.

"The grand jury should remain impartial and unbiased during its deliberations and the close relationship with police procedure and proceedings put that in jeopardy," the jurors wrote in their end-of-term report, filed this month.

One concern raised by the Tennessean was grand jury foreman Stan Fossick. Since 1993 Mr. Fossick has been appointed grand jury foreman in at least 42 grand juries. it might be time for some new blood in the job of grand jury foreman. My own personal complaint of Mr. Fossick is I requested a client of mine testify to tell his side of a domestic violence case. My request was refused even state law allows one to testify before the grand jury on a vote of its members. Recently, he told his story and the court found him not guilty of domestic violence. I will always wonder what the grand jury would have done if they had listened to his story. The report spoke of the one sided point of view from the state. It was certainly on sided in one case.

The Tennessean called for reforms of the Davidson County Grand jury Here are my suggestions.

  1. End the practice of allowing police officers to speak before the grand jury unless the grand jury on its own initiative requests to investigate some aspect of the criminal justice system.
  2. It might be a good time to let someone else take a turn as grand jury foreman.
  3. While not addressed by the report, it has been a long time practice of allowing others not involved in the case to testify from the grand jury by just reading the arrest report.

 

 

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