CLEVELAND—Today, State Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) was joined by experts Dr. Jonathan Witmer-Rich – Professor of law at CSU’s Cleveland–Marshall College of Law, Attorney Greg Meyers – Ohio Public Defender’s Office Chief Counsel of Trial Division, Judge Michelle D. Earley – Cleveland Municipal Court, and Rev. C. Jay Matthews – Mt. Sinai Baptist Church to examine grand jury reform in Ohio. Each expert discussed different aspects of the grand jury process, including its history, practical application, point of view as a prosecutor or judge, and the experience of serving on a grand jury. 

Senator Williams, along with co-host State Representative Janine Boyd and State Representative Stephanie Howse, facilitated a call-to-action for the local elected officials in attendance. The call-to-action consists of three parts. For the first action, attendees signed on to the Reform the Grand Jury Ohio petition. The second action would have local official agree to pursue resolutions demanding action on grand jury reforms. The third action would have local officials engage in an active writing campaign to garner attention for possible reforms. 

“In the wake of high profile grand jury inaction, this event serves to bring the community together to discuss and promote real reforms,” said Senator Williams. “Grand jury reform is being discussed across Ohio, at the Supreme Court in their Task Force to Examine Improvements to the Ohio Grand Jury System, in the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission and in the General Assembly.”

The audience consisted of local elected officials, clergy, justice activists and community members. Event attendants discussed active reforms to the grand jury process in Ohio, such as three pieces of legislation: Senate Bill 258 – requiring the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor in police shooting cases, Senate Joint Resolution 4 – which would remove the grand jury from the state Constitution, and Senate Joint Resolution 6 – which would allow for, the more public, probable cause hearings to indict for felonies. 

“This event will begin a grassroots dialogue between state officials and those in communities impacted by this outdated process,” stated Senator Williams.

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