Sullivan, Thomas P.; Nachman, Robert D.
December 1984
Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology;Winter1984, Vol. 75 Issue 4, p1047
Academic Journal
This article examines the accusatory function of the U.S. federal grand jury system in light of the proposed changes. It explores whether the system is working as intended, and to the extent it is not, which proposals hold the best chances for effecting meaningful change without crippling the law enforcement process. The federal grand jury system has emerged relatively unscathed from the stormy attacks of the 197O's, when critics, decrying the political abuse of the grand jury by the administration of former President Richard Nixon, called for radical changes to the system. The federal grand jury should, with a few minor changes, remain as the body to initiate federal prosecutions, because the grand jury, by and large, adequately fulfills an appropriate accusatory function. Although overzealous or overreaching federal prosecutors can manipulate the federal grand jury, by and large the Department of Justice has not abused its authority. Furthermore, no current proposal for reform of the federal grand jury system can eliminate the possibility of abuse without unduly obstructing federal law enforcement and federal courts, and adding substantial cost and delay to the federal criminal justice system. Thus, the protection of citizens is best left in the hands of the conscientious prosecutors who occupy the offices of U.S. Attorney and their assistants throughout the country.


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