Rep. Johnson introduces Grand Jury Reform Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Responding to calls that the nation’s grand jury system is broken when police are investigated for the killing of civilians, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) today introduced the “Grand Jury Reform Act, H.R. 5830.”

This bill would require the appointment of a special prosecutor charged with conducting a probable cause hearing, open to the public, when reasonable grounds exist to believe that criminal charges should be considered (a crime was committed) by the officer/s involved.  Passage of this bill would help restore trust in our justice system, while ensuring a fair process for all parties. 

The “Grand Jury Reform Act” also specifies that in order for local law enforcement agencies to receive federal funding, they would have to comply with this new process.

If enacted, the governor of the state where the incident in question occurred would appoint a prosecutor, who would present evidence on behalf of the state at the hearing. The preliminary hearing would also remain open to the public, except as determined appropriate by the presiding judge.

“The protesters demand an end to what is perceived as unequal justice, and that those who are responsible for the use of excessive force be brought to justice,” said Johnson. “They do not trust a secret grand jury system that is so clearly broken. My bill will help restore that trust.  No longer will communities have to rely on the secret and biased grand jury process.” 

Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers is a cosponsor of the bill, which Johnson intends on reintroducing early in the 114th Congress in 2015.