Grand jury involvement is a bad sign for Raiders CB Gareon Conley

Not long after the Oakland Raiders signed rookie Gareon Conley to a contract, it was reported by Ed Gallek of FOX8 News in Cleveland that the investigation will go to a grand jury.

And that’s a bad sign for Conley and the Raiders.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, a grand jury is used in some jurisdictions as a way of deciding whether or not to press charges against someone who has been accused of a crime. A grand jury is assembled in the same way as a regular jury is assembled. People are selected from a voter registration database. Once the grand jury is selected, the district attorney (prosecutor) will present a case to the grand jury. Unlike in a trial, there is no defense side of the story in a grand jury. The defendant does not get an opportunity to present a case.

But, the grand jury is not deciding guilt. Instead, the grand jury is deciding whether or not there is sufficient evidence to justify going to trial. In theory, it’s a way of ensuring that there is adequate evidence against someone before they are indicted. In reality, obtaining an indictment from a grand jury is a pretty low bar and is achieved in far and away the majority of the time. For example, federal grand juries have indicted 99.9% of the cases that are put to them.

So, if Gareon Conley’s case is really being put to a grand jury, that’s not a good sign. Not only because statistics dictate that an indictment is likely, but also because the district attorney would not take the case to a grand jury unless he or she felt as though they wanted to pursue the case.

Because no, there is nothing that requires a district attorney to take a case to a grand jury. In America we have what’s called “prosecutorial discretion” which means we rely heavily on prosecutors to decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to move a police investigation into formal charges.

In a case like this with public scrutiny. district attorneys will often go to a grand jury as a way of being more open about the case (even though grand jury proceedings are closed to the public). The idea is that you take away theories of bias by the prosecutor since technically it is the grand jury that does the decision making (though, as we note above, that’s a bit flawed considering how easy it is go obtain an indictment). In Ohio, a grand jury is required to press charges in felony cases.

SO, what can we take away from Conley’s case going to a grand jury?

1 - They are likely to indict, which means this could drag on for a while.

2 - If they don’t indict, it weighs much more heavily in Cconley’s favor because an indictment is so easy to obtain.

3 - This means the district attorney’s office has a desire to proceed with the case, because they don’t have to seek an indictment, they have chosen to.

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