Grand Jury System is defended
by vindex


Relates History of the Creation of the System During Reign of Henry III.


Vindex Wants to Know What Is to Take Place of Grand Jury Investigation.


Duluth Minn, Sept. 29,1904

Mr. Editor:—
  The question of abolishing the grand jury in Minnesota is being agitated at this time. Recently I noticed in the newspaper a long list of opinions in reference-thereto, In which many per­sons seemed to favor the abolition of that ancient and time-honored body. Among the early founders of republics, where all power is supposed to ema­nate from the people, the grand jury is generally regarded as the representative element of government nearest to the populace to be governed. The grand jury system( with its many changes and modifications, dates back to the forty-second year of the reign of Edward III. Formerly It was com­ posed of twenty-four members and al­ways required twelve members to con­cur in an accusation, but frequently there were twelve for and twelve against, and to avoid that situation one was dropped, so that we now have twenty-three members, with sixteen for a quorum and. still twelve must concur in finding an indictment.

  The grand jury came into use in England after many iniquitous prosecu­tions of innocent persons, who were victims to the subserviency of the crown officers in proceedings by in­formation. That is the method of procedure proposed by those who now want to abolish the grand jury in this state.

  The attaches of the courts today are too willing to trust themselves and over confident, that they will not err in the administration of swift justice.

  The functions of the grand jury are generally prescribed by statute to be their duty, to inquire into all indicta­ble offenses committed or triable in the county, as well as the case of every person imprisoned in the county jail and not indicted.

  Besides these ordinary duties, certain others of a special character are de­puted to them. It is the duty of the grand jury to inspect the county jail, for the purpose of examining its security, sanitary condition and discipline; to inquire into the wilfull and corrupt misconduct in office of public officers of every description within the county. They occupy a place in the realm of governmental prerogatives, between the people and their chosen officials and are clothed with power to call any one of the public servants to render an account of his stewardship at any time when they are properly assembled. That their duties may be performed without obstruction the grand jury is generally granted free access to public prisons and to all public records of the county. They, must also examine into the condition of the county treasury; sometimes perform the duties of coun­ty commissioners; inspect the bonds of county officers, with regard to their correctness and sufficiency; examine the tax collector's books, his reports and settlements; ascertain whether the several towns of the county have been duly assessed; whether the officers have collected and expended the tax for the support of schools as required by law; make a careful examination of the condition of the accounts of the collecting officers of the county, dock­ets of the justices of the peace and any other matters relating to the general school funds.

  In case of the abolition of the grand jury, who shall discharge all these du­ties, between the people and their chosen officials? Who shall guard the liberties of the people? Who shall complain of wrong-doers? Who shall examine the books of officials?

  To whom shall the special inherent governmental powers of the grand jury be delegated?

  I would by statutory enactment make it obligatory upon the courts to more explicitly direct and charge the grand juries as to their powers and duties, with reference to town, coun­ty, village and particularly city offi­cials until grafting in official life would be but a memory.

  The principal argument against the grand jury system, is the matter of ex­pense to the county. Annually the taxpayers put into the county treasury the necessary funds to defray the running expenses of the government of the county and the money disbursed for the services of the grand jury merely returns to each juror a portion of the taxes which he advanced, while it does more in a substantial manner toward making him a better citizen. To serve on the grand jury is an education to any man such as are usually drawn, which must prove bene­ficial to him as an individual and the salutary influence upon the community at large, as well as that upon the public officials for good government, cannot be measured in dollars and cents.



More About It!

Shared March 11, 2022

The article here was an article shared in the issue 001 of the White Pine Times and is a homage piece written verbatim. The article is taken from the paper The Labor World.

The world Publish Date Oct. 1, 1904

Within the article a location and date is published hailing from: 

Duluth, Minn., Sept. 29, 1904

This source and page scan comes from 'Chronicling America' from 'The Library of Congress'.

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