It’s all supposed to be super-secret of course, but I will no doubt end up writing sonmething of a general nature about it, without of course revealing any of the highly sensitive super-secret details of any individual cases.
I always used to disapprove of grand juries, because of the compelled testimony and the secrecy. But just yesterday another penny dropped:
About 98% of criminal cases in my town never go to trial. There’s no petit jury, like in all those wonderful movies , with rules of evidence and cross-examination. Nope. Nearly all cases are plea-bargained.
The plea-bargaining strategy is very clear in the material we get from the DA: six or seven different redundant and duplicative charges for one more or less bad act, for example.
This is all meant to scare the defendant so much that he will take a plea, whether he’s guilty or innocent. The assistant DA scores a point and his boss is happy, and the defendant goes upstate, which makes these desperate little towns, where prisons are the main employers, happy also. Or at least as happy as you can be if incarceration is the local industry.
So my little not-so-grand jury is in fact the only jury of his peers that 98% of our defendants will ever face.
Teaser: Most of my colleagues do not want to hear this.