York County’s top prosecutor said Thursday there is no evidence a June grand jury did not properly examine more than 900 cases that defense lawyers want thrown out, and that “second-guessing” the secret grand jury shows “inappropriateness,” without any evidence, court documents show.
The defense lawyers as a group have scoffed at the idea that 904 cases in one day that show an average of 39 seconds per case is anywhere near fair or right or Constitutional. More, defense lawyers say, previous months had far fewer cases, including some months of less than 300 cases.
Kevin Brackett, the 16th Circuit solicitor, filed documents in response to 27 defense lawyers demanding that a judge throw out the June grand jury indictments that lawyers claim was far too large and fast for justice. The defense lawyers claim that it is preposterous to believe that grand jurors who took an average of 39 seconds per case properly reviewed each case as the law requires. Brackett disputes that calculation by the defense lawyers.
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Prosecutors must have an indictment from a grand jury to take a case to trial. An indictment is not a conviction.
Brackett said in the filing that defense lawyers have presented no evidence to show that the grand jury that worked for almost 10 hours June 14 mishandled 904 indictments. Many defendants had multiple indictments from multiple cases, which shows the time argument defense lawyers make is baseless, the motion states.
The defense lawyers argument “discounts the equal possibility that the grand jury spent more time on some cases and less on others,” Brackett wrote.
Further, case law shows that the defense lawyers argument has already been reviewed and denied, prosecutors wrote.
How it works
A grand jury is a secret hearing. A grand jury is a panel of up to 18 people who hear basic facts about a criminal case, said David Hamilton, York County Clerk of Court. The grand jury meets once a month at the Moss Justice Center in York. The jury can either issue a “true bill’ indictment that allows prosecutors to go forward with a trial, or a “no bill” that states grand jurors found not enough probable cause for the case to move forward. Law enforcement officers speak to a grand jury about charges against a defendant. Defendants and their lawyers are not allowed to appear before a grand jury.
Yet, defense lawyers said by asking Aug. 3 that all the 904 cases be tossed, that the June panel failed to properly review each case.
“The grand jury is not supposed to “rubber stamp” cases, the lawyers stated. The high volume of June cases made the grand jury “unable to fully consider all the evidence,” the lawyers stated in their motion.
Gary Lemel, one of the lead lawyers who wrote in court filings last week the grand jury in June was a sham, declined to comment on Brackett’s Thursday court filing.
Both sides are expected to comment publicly in court Friday morning. The case is expected to be heard Friday morning in York in front of Circuit Judge Dan Hall.
Check with heraldonline.com Friday for new developments.