CA – Today, the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that District Attorney’s
Offices throughout California are not barred from using the grand jury to
investigate officer involved shootings.
This ruling found that Senate Bill 227, signed into law by Governor
Jerry Brown in August 2015, was unconstitutional. The Court noted that, “The Legislature does
not have the power to enact a statute that limits the constitutional power of a
criminal grand jury. . .”
day, law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Unfortunately, their job has been getting
more and more difficult over the last few years. The anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country
has been fueled by some misguided politicians, by special interests groups, and
by false news stories.
2015, the California Legislature bought into a false news story regarding the
death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the alleged claim that he was
killed while holding up his hands and uttering “hands up don’t shoot.” By the time of the California Legislature’s
consideration and passage SB 227, the narrative of “hands up don’t shoot” had
already been exposed as a fraud by the United States DOJ report led by then
Attorney General Eric Holder.
Nevertheless, the false narrative was adopted and misused by the
California Legislature to claim that the grand jury process is a flawed
mechanism to investigate use of force cases.
Officers’ jobs are incredibly difficult and officer involved shootings are
never easy to investigate. But,
occasionally, these very difficult cases need to be investigated by a grand
jury because the public is entitled to a comprehensive, professional and
transparent investigation into all potential criminal activity. Today, the 3rd District Court of
Appeal struck down an unconstitutional law that prohibited these essential
grand jury investigations.
Pierson stated, ”The Grand Jury, and the role of the Attorney General and
District Attorney, are a vital part of the Constitutional fabric which makes up
our justice system. The California
Legislature’s unconstitutional passage of SB 227 attempted to chip away at the
rights and powers contained within the Constitution. It is for these reasons that our office,
with assistance from prosecutors from San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento,
Riverside, Ventura, Yolo, and the California District Attorneys
Association, challenged this new law
which impacted our efforts to impanel a criminal grand jury regarding an
officer involved shooting.”