Columbus—This week, Senator Sandra Williams (Cleveland-D) testified to the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) regarding possible reforms to the Ohio indictment process and the abolishment of grand jury procedure.

“The time is right to reexamine the grand jury process, and many states are looking at the issue,” Senator Williams stated. “Technically we don't know what authority the legislature has compared to the authority of the constitution. So no one seems to know, and it's vague.”

The Judicial Branch of the OCMC and the Administration of Justice Committee have recently examined proposals from the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations regarding ways to improve the indictment process.

“Short of doing away with grand juries, lawmakers could possibly mandate that special prosecutors be appointed in certain cases—especially cases that involve police shootings, “ said Senator Williams. “There is also a chance of legislation being introduced that would give the state attorney general’s office the responsibility of determining whether charges should be filed against law enforcement officers who fatally shoot people.”

Proposed improvements to the indictment process include requiring judicial oversight of the grand jury process, creating an open and transparent process by authorizing release of testimony in certain cases, and mandating that grand juries review all officer-involved deaths or injuries in the absence of independent investigations.
Senator Williams discussed problems with the grand jury process in a recent column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The OCMC will meet again to discuss the possibility of reforming the indictment process in Ohio. 

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