The news this week has me thinking a great deal about our criminal justice system and how broken it is on so many levels. Obviously I was not in the grand jury room and did not hear the evidence, but I did have the opportunity to sit on a grand jury in the late 90's. As a recent law grad, it was fascinating -- watching the prosecutors outline each element of the charge through witnesses and other evidence -- it was a real life demo of everything I learned in my criminal law and procedure classes, which were some of my favorites in law school. That said, it was also a horrifying window into how screwed up our criminal justice system really is. A few weeks in, several of my fellow grand jurors still didn't seem to understand that we weren't *trying* the cases, but merely seeing if they met the rather low evidentiary standard for indictment and that the trial came later. It was stunning. We'll likely never know how each grand juror in Ferguson ultimately came to his or her decision, but it seems odd from an outside perspective that the very low indictment standard wasn't met by the prosecution.
Back to my work increasing access to justice and improving the legal system, I guess . . .