Standards: Part 3 - The "Grand Jury"

Everyone has heard the cliché about how a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich.” This is because grand juries more or less serve as a rubber stamp for prosecutors. Over 99.99% of cases brought before federal grand juries result in an indictment. Some would have you believe that a federal grand jury has been reviewing evidence against Bill for the past six months, yet for some inexplicable reason, the prosecutor suddenly decided not to move forward. But that is not how the process works.

The reason there is a 99.99% ‘indictment rate’ for cases brought before grand juries is because by the time that the grand jury is hearing a case, the prosecutor has already decided that they intend to press charges. Prosecutors do not bring cases before grand juries if they do not intend to prosecute. Prosecutors do not present evidence to a grand jury in cases they do not intend to prosecute. In some cases, investigative grand juries are used to subpoena witnesses. However that is not the type of grand jury that we were told was “hearing testimony and reviewing evidence” relating to a case in which we could “fully expect [an indictment] this summer.”

In short, there is no reason believe there was ever a grand jury and every reason to believe these claims were misleading at best and blatant lies at worst. To go back to my comments about “standards” from a few months ago, the reason that it matters is because these are very serious allegations to make about a person. Even if shown not to be true (like in this case), these types of false claims still have the potential to severely impact a person’s professional life and personal relationships. If a legitimate journalist dared to make the kind of misleading and malicious claims like the ones made about Bill and the grand jury, their credibility would be destroyed and they would no longer be employed as a journalist - even if their publisher was an alternative weekly circular distributed to readers no charge. Because even they have standards.