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California District Attorneys Say…um…NO to Trutanich’s Grand Jury Bill

June 25th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s quest to acquire his own personal Grand Jury continues.

The controversial bill, SB1168, that would allow the city attorney to get what he wants, is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee on June 27.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman’s Jan Perry’s resolution to oppose the idea may or may not be brought up in the council today, Friday. (Everyone is waiting for the fiscal report on the bill by the City’s Administrative Officer (CAO).

BUT THE BIG NEWS AROUND THIS ISSUE is the fact that Trutanich received a nasty blow this week when the California District Attorneys Association wrote Gil Cedillo, the bill’s sponsor, to say that, thank you very much, but they would NOT be supporting this measure.

The DAs also opined that the grand jury Trutanich wanted was “potentially unconstitutional.”

Word is that Trutanich, was really, really not happy at this outcome. Vocally not happy.

Anyway….here is the heart of it the district attorneys’ Dude-I-don’t-think-so letter :

On behalf of the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), I regret to inform you that we are opposed to your measure, SB 1168, as amended on May 25,2010. This bill would allow the Los Angeles City Attorney to request the impanelment of a misdemeanor grand jury.


More concerning is that the measure proposes a potentially unconstitutional arrangement because the misdemeanor grand jury would exist simply as an investigative tool. Grand jurors would only have the power to subpoena witnesses as well as hear andrecord their testimony; there would be no power to indict. This bill creates something that has never existed before: a grand jury with no ability either to determine that a crime has not occurred or to indict. Such a system would likely face a charge that it is a sham and a violation of the separation of powers.

Specifically, the argument would be that a judicial agency (the grand jury) is being used to
carry out an executive function (the investigation of crime) and that this grand jury performs no judicial function because it does not have the power to independently evaluate the evidence and render an opinion whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

Although this bill might provide the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office with a helpful tool, we
must consider the potential impact on other prosecutors. The grand jury performs an important function and we do not want to risk losing it…..


If you’ve already finished being aghast at the great welfare-to-casino debacle, and/or Antonio’s ongoing ticket idiocy, then, if by some odd chance you haven’t yet read the Guardian’s Xan Brooks instantly legendary live blogging of the Isner-Mahut Zombie tennis match at Wimbleton, do it this second. I know I’m late in the bringing this up. But its face-achingly funny. (And, if you’ve already read it, it bears reading again.)

(Everyone says to start at hour 4:05 pm but I’d read the whole damn thing.)

(Screw tennis, I think the guy should start live blogging American politics. it’d make everything more bearable. I’m sure of it.)

UPDATE: By the way, it’s worth noting that Kevin Roderick at LA Observed flagged Brooks’ poetic and gloriously frantic live blogging—and the press follow-up—ahead of anybody else. A few random sports bloggers saw it. But Roderick was out spreading the word early. And I’m glad he did.

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