We rarely see the grand jury on Law & Order, possibly because the proceedings aren’t usually very dramatic (or, more likely, because a half-hour is barely enough time to hold a courtroom trial to begin with). In the rare instance that a grand jury is depicted on the show, the ADA reigns supreme. This is the case in real life.
Grand Jury proceedings are secret, and the defendant isn’t even present unless he’s testifying—which he must do if called to the stand (unlike a trial). The defendant isn’t represented by a lawyer during grand jury proceedings and can’t call witnesses. Grand juries send the vast majority of defendants to trial. (New York State judge Sol Wachtler famously once said that a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich.”)
For these reasons, the system is subjected to an enormous amount of criticism, and numerous jurisdictions have done away with it, opting instead for hearings before a judge. New York City, however, still uses grand juries.
©True Stories of Law & OrderPost Categories: Law (In No Particular Order)Tags: court, dwyer, fio, Grand Jury, indictment, jack mccoy, judge, jury, justice, kevin dwyer, law, law and order, legal, order, Reasonable Doubt, trial
True Stories of Law & Order series authors Kevin Dwyer and Juré Fiorillo weigh in on crime, justice, and their favorite television show.