Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors' Secrecy at Issue Lawyer Wants Peek at Indictment Process

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors' Secrecy at Issue Lawyer Wants Peek at Indictment Process

Article excerpt

Grand jurors have always conducted their business behind closed doors. But a lawyer in a civil suit in Madison County wants to crack one of those doors open enough to get a peek at what happened when grand jurors indicted two police officers and a city official in Granite City in 1988.

Melroy B. Hutnick of Belleville, a lawyer for one of the officers, has asked a judge to allow him to question the former grand jurors under oath in what is called a deposition.

Hutnick wants to know more about what the jurors heard in secret and whether that will affect the suit that Hutnick has filed for Sgt. David Rosenburg against Granite City and several former officials.

Madison County State's Attorney William R. Haine called the request unprecedented. He is scrambling to find a way to stop what he believes is a threat to the entire jury system. He has asked a judge to allow him to intervene as the only person able to represent the interest of the jury system.

"I don't know how we would find any citizen who would want to serve on a grand jury or trial jury if they had to fear being placed under oath six years later and asked what they considered in reaching their decision," Haine said.

Haine said he could find no evidence that anyone else has tried to question former grand jurors. Most everyone understands that grand jury activities are required to be kept secret by state law, he said.

In his court motion, Haine said Hutnick's proposal would have "a chilling effect" and "can only lead to abuse" by opening all jurors to attempts to delve into their deliberations and verdicts and challenge their decisions.

In an interview, he added: "There is a good reason this is unprecedented. There is wisdom in it being unprecedented."

But Hutnick argues in his motion to Associate Judge Jan V. Fiss of St. Clair County that "there is absolutely no good reason in law or common sense" to deny his request. …

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