Imagine a bar fight. Imagine someone getting killed and someone getting indicted for the crime by a Grand Jury. Imagine now, that one vital piece of evidence – a clear cut self defense argument – is never presented to the Grand Jury by the prosecutor…Is That Even Legal? A trial court said it was. The Arizona Supreme Court said…no!
Grand Juries are in the news every day. They are impaneled against politicians, business titans and others suspected of crimes. Their job is to determine whether a crime was committed and whether the person being investigated likely committed the crime.
The word indicted can end your career, your professional and even your private life. How does the Grand Jury process work? What happens when it doesn’t?
The all too common saying that you can “indict a ham sandwich,” has a very distasteful meaning when you consider the impacts of being indicted.
Your amazing host, Bob became very curious about this process…and particularly the story of the bar fight. Attorney Jesse Smith, who won the appeal before the AZ Supreme Court – earning his client a new Grand Jury – is Bob’s guest.
Here is more on the underlying case… WILLIS v. BERNINI
From the AZ Supreme Court:
"In this case, we clarify the due process rights of a person under investigation before a grand jury, the duties of a prosecutor to present evidence for the grand jury’s consideration in determining whether to issue an indictment, and the standard for what constitutes “clearly exculpatory” evidence, especially with regard to a justification defense.
¶2We hold that the Arizona Constitution guarantees a person under grand jury investigation a due process right to a fair and impartial presentation of clearly exculpatory evidence and that a prosecutor has a duty, even in the absence of a specific request, to present such evidence to a grand jury. We also affirm that evidence is clearly exculpatory if it would deter a grand jury from finding probable cause to issue an indictment as initially stated in State v. Superior Court(Mauro), 139 Ariz. 422, 425 (1984).
Finally, we hold that clearly exculpatory evidence includes evidence relevant to a justification defense that would deter a finding of probable cause."