The DU Criminal Law Review wishes everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Procedural rules mandate that the deliberations of a grand jury and related documents should normally be withheld from the general public. It has long been the view that the prosecutor retains discretion to charge or not to charge a defendant based on the grand jury’s decision to indict.
This has recently been challenged in the case of the Jonbenet Ramsey with respect to the then prosecutor’s decision to not pursue charges even though the grand jury voted to indict the victim’s parents. There are a few issues that readily come to mind including: 1) the death of Jonbenet’s mother, Patricia Ramsey, and 2) nearly 18 years passed since the tragic death, leaving much of the evidence difficult to find or non-existent.
Many local and national news media outlets have extensively covered this story recently. One article found on the CNN website discusses the probability and possibility of the prosecution to file new charges, given the inherent issues surrounding the evidence in the case.
Should grand jury deliberations be more or less transparent? Do you think it is proper to publicly release grand jury documents? If so, how do you think this case should be resolved? How much discretion should the prosecution have if a grand jury makes their indictment decision?
We would like to hear your opinions.