For Immediate Release: For more information contact:
Dec. 11, 2014 Rep. Brandon Ellington at (573) 751-3129
Rep. Ellington proposes abolishing grand juries in Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Brandon Ellington has pre-filed legislation that seeks to abolish the grand jury process in Missouri. If approved by the General Assembly, Ellington’s proposed constitutional amendment would automatically go on the November 2016 statewide ballot for voter ratification.
“Trust in the legal system requires an open and transparent process,” Ellington said. “Grand juries, by contrast, operate in secrecy and under the complete control of prosecutors, undermining public trust in the system. In light of the biased grand jury proceedings that took place in the Michael Brown case, Missourians should have the chance to consider whether the antiquated grand jury process still serves a legitimate purpose in our modern criminal justice system.”
Although centuries ago grand juries were used to ensure that evidence was minimally sufficient to move forward with a criminal prosecution, a grand jury indictment is no longer necessary to bring criminal charges. It is more common for a prosecutor to simply file criminal charges against a defendant, who is then entitled to a preliminary hearing at which the sufficiency of the evidence determined by a judge following public and transparent proceedings.
Ellington’s proposed constitutional amendment is House Joint Resolution 17. The 2015 legislative session begins on Jan. 7.