New York Grand Juries: Rubber Stamp of ADA's Requests?

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As the saying goes, in North Carolina you can indict a ham sandwich for the murder of a pig. In New York, the saying would be slightly different. It would say that any decent assistant district attorney (ADA) can get a jury to indict a ham sandwich because the grand jury institution has become an appendix of the ADA's office. The perceived grand jury weakness expounded here is its lack of agency, or capability of seeking legal advice, as it did in its pre-1970 era. This Article contends that because today legal advice is solely within the ADA's discretion all too often that advise is so cursorily presented that its sole effect is often to confuse rather than help jurors decipher the meaning of the law.

Additionally, because the grand jury's only source of legal information is only the office of the district attorney, this creates an upper-hand reliance and appearance of bias, though neither cases nor the existing literature seems to acknowledge it. Sometimes ADAs discharge their function perfunctorily and doing so they may inadvertently appear as attempting to manipulate jurors, who generally do not have specialized legal knowledge.