I have heard that a number of counties do not use law enforcement officers to present cases at Grand Jury. We are considering just having ADA's present in our county. What do your counties do?
I wasn't shocked the first time I found out that some counties let anyone BESIDES ADAs present to Grand Juries. I had worked in Bexar and Galveston and never seen such a thing and didn't even think it was permissible until I got this gig where we prosecute in different counties around the state.
But it turns out it's more common than I thought, especially in the smaller counties I go to.
I still always present my cases without any law enforcement unless I want to just use them as witnesses, and that's actually been a good relationship builder with the officers and it helps those who have never testified at trial get more comfortable talking about the case. It also gives you a chance to get a dry-run in on your officer's testimony.
So I think most of the time it's going to be best for an ADA to have a hand in the presentation, if for no other reason than that's how it's going to be in the courtroom so you need to start with that dynamic from the beginning. Just my preference.
For almost 22 years, I had officers present all cases. I thought it was good experience for the officers.
However, it was getting harder and harder to schedule officers. The agency heads were wanting just have detectives present all case and they complained about overtime or having "on duty" officers sitting waiting to testify.
So, last year, I started presenting all cases myself. It has been much easier and my officer are very happy with the new system.
There is a lot to be said for the efficiency of having the ADA's present cases. Of course there are cases that you may want officers to present (high-profile, officer use of force), and I would NOT solely use an ADA if you are looking for a no-bill. Additionally, you can present your potential "problem" cases first, and then if the GJ want to hear from the officer, you get most of the day to get them there, especially if you give the agency heads (Chief, Sheriff, etc) a heads up on when you are having a grand jury day.
Except for those cases where an offense occurred within the view of an officer, using a police officer to present a case will normally be no more effective than having the state's attorney relate what is reflected in an offense report (in either event the presenter will lack personal knowledge of at least some of the facts). But, some might argue the law requires sworn testimony from witnesses, especially because art. 20.20 requires endorsement on an indictment of "the names of the witnesses upon whose testimony the same was found." Missing from that sentence is "witnesses, if any." And, it appears the legislature sought to ease the officer-witness problem with art. 20.151. But, there is also this provision in art. 20.03, which seems to support the alternative method: "The attorney representing the State, is entitled to go before the grand jury and inform them of offenses liable to indictment." Maybe it depends on what the meaning of "inform" is.
I doubt that state's attorneys who present cases take the art. 20.16 oath or really consider themselves as witnesses. So, who is listed as a witness where there were none?
To me, the interesting aspect is that jurisdictions presenting fewer cases, less often, are more likely to use the system you are considering in Nacogdoches.
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