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NCJ Number: 113714 Find in a Library
Title: Revealing Misconduct by Public Officials Through Grand Jury Reports
Journal: University of Pennsylvania Law Review  Volume:136  Issue:1  Dated:(November 1987)  Pages:73-140
Author(s): B J Stern
Date Published: 1987
Page Count: 68
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: While historically, common law grand juries have performed a public reporting function by identifying official misconduct without initiating prosecution, there is substantial disagreement over whether they should have authority to reveal official misconduct other than through indictment.
Abstract: Critics of the reporting authority contend that the public is unable to distinguish between a grand jury report that reveals noncriminal misconduct and an indictment that initiates a criminal prosecution. As a result, the revelation of misconduct is a threat to the public official's due process rights because it denies the procedural safeguards of a criminal prosecution, yet results in the same harm to reputation as a criminal accusation. Proponents argue that the reporting authority promotes democracy by publicly exposing Government wrongdoing and by holding public officials accountable under a stricter standard of conduct than that required by the criminal law. This controversy was revived in a 1985 grand jury report that recommended that the Alaska Legislature initiate impeachment proceedings against the Governor. The report accused the Governor of criminal misconduct, but chose not to indict. An analysis of the interests expressed by the grand jury for this preference suggests that those interests were not served by using the report as an alternative to prosecution. It is argued that, while grand jury reports can serve an important function by identifying violations of the public trust that are not indictable, they should not be used as an alternative to prosecution of criminal misconduct. 272 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Abuse of authority
Index Term(s): Grand juries; Professional misconduct
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