Attorney says grand jury investigating Greitens’ affair, but what exactly does the grand jury do?


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The investigation into the allegations against Governor Eric Greitens is moving forward, with the latest news breaking this week that the ex-husband of the woman who had an extramarital with Missouri’s Republican governor in 2015 has been subpoenaed to testify before a St. Louis grand jury.

More details and questions continue to arise in the aftermath of the release of a secretly recorded conversation between the ex-husband and wife, where she claimed that Greitens had taken a compromising photo to blackmail her if she spoke about the relationship.

Since admitting to the monthlong affair on January 10, the Governor has repeatedly denied threatening to blackmail the woman but has never directly answered whether he took a photo.

That spurred an investigation, led by Kim Gardner of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, to look into the allegations of blackmail and misconduct. Several lawmakers have called on the Governor to resign, including five fellow Republicans.

According to several media reports, Greitens’ attorney Jim Bennett has stated that neither he nor the Governor has been contacted by law enforcement. The woman’s lawyers have not made any statements about whether they have received any subpoenas.

Only the ex-husband’s lawyer has stated that they have received a subpoena, but the circuit attorney’s spokesperson has not confirmed nor denied the issuance of a subpoena.

If, in fact, a grand jury case is a trajectory that this route will follow, then the prosecutors would present evidence in secrecy, leaving the decision to file charges by a panel of citizens in a closed session. These 12 citizens are selected similarly to those for jury trials and will be tasked with reviewing evidence, issuing subpoenas for evidence, testimony, and documents, before nine of them must agree on whether a crime was committed and there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed it.

The prosecutors decide what evidence to present and what specific charges the jury should consider.

The process, however, does not allow for any defense. Subjects of the investigation are invited to testify – without their lawyers.

And just like in a preliminary hearing, the case will either be bound over to the circuit court or the defendant is free to go.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.