Runner's Bill Should Relieve LA Courts
Senate Bill 796 would Create an Additional Grand Jury
Legislation authored by Sen. George Runner (R-Antelope Valley) that would create an additional Criminal Grand Jury in Los Angeles County, has unanimously passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
“The pursuit of justice is held hostage in the L.A. County Court system because our Criminal Grand Jury is overwhelmed with serious cases and not enough people to hear them,” Runner said. “Many of these cases involve people accused of violent sexual acts, gang murder, public corruption and other high crimes. It’s a disservice to the victims and their families when these cases sit idle.”
Terry Bork, legal advisor and deputy district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, said Senate Bill 796 is needed to turn the tide on the Criminal Grand Jury’s work load. He said already this year approximately 10 cases that had been approved for the Criminal Grand Jury were turned away because of the crowded schedule.
“During the heavy time of the year, we are scheduling hearings two- to three-months in advance and some hearings are not able to wait that long,” Bork said. “By adding another Grand Jury through this legislation, the District Attorney’s office will be able to handle another 20 to 30 indictments per year.”
Grand Jury hearings vary, Bork said, with some cases taking a few weeks to complete and others lasting two months due to the witness count (sometimes numbering in the dozens). Grand juries work a typical jury work week, which is Monday through Friday, 9-4:30 p.m.
Bork said the D.A. office only seeks grand juries for serious crimes, including hard-core gang murder, major fraud, complex narcotic cases, political corruptions and those that involve allegations of police misconduct.
Senate Bill 796 next moves to the Assembly floor in the coming weeks.