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Friday, February 19, 2010

Grand jury minutes are facts in a can

The media's making a big deal out of the fact that the grand jury minutes have been made public in the case of the killing of Aaron Campbell at the hands of Portland police. They're picking the transcript of those proceedings apart as if it's some special window on the truth.

The media seem to have forgotten (if they ever understood) the obvious fact that the grand jury is run entirely by the district attorney's office. The rules of evidence don't apply, and nobody's there to represent the victim. The grand jury sees and hears exactly what the DA's office wants it to hear -- nothing more and nothing less. And the DA's office has a strong allegiance to the police force, with which it works 24-7-365.

Here in Multnomah County, the grand jury has never, in recent memory, seen evidence to warrant indicting a police officer for killing someone in the line of duty. But that is not to say that such evidence has never existed.

As a practical matter, it would take what they call a "runaway grand jury" to indict a police officer in Portland. That's a once-per-century phenomenon.

It was amusing to see our fearless DA on TV last night. He told KGW that, harumph harumph, it wasn't always appropriate to make the grand jury's minutes public, but it was in this case. Sure, Mike. It's appropriate except in cases in which somebody blurts out the actual truth as opposed to the police union version.

To read grand jury proceedings is to read an expanded version of the official account of the killing. Anyone who gets all excited over the release of those minutes doesn't understand what a grand jury is.

Comments (18)

They put the entire case file online have you read that yet? at 600 plus pages is that a big enough window for you?

It could be 10,000 pages -- it's all created by the cops and the DA. It's the official version, and therefore it's not entirely trustworthy.

You want a window? Let's read the trial record in the Chasse case, where the dead victim's family gets to cross-examine the city's witnesses. Can't wait!

Peebody -

Unlike you, I have read the police reports. I started them Wednesday, and finished them yesterday.

And having read them, I know there are enough contradictions, impossibilities and out right falsehoods in them to know that at a real trial, folks in blue would go to jail.

A stray dog would not have been meft lying on the street bleeding for 45 minutes as Campbell was.

Portland cops are not only ill trained thugs and bullies, they are cowards.

"Anyone who gets all excited over the release of those minutes doesn't understand what a grand jury is."
The few who do aren't making much noise.

man, back when i was taking paralegal classes a DA came to class and she sed pdx had recently lost a DA--WHY?--cos she had the gall to investigate an officer for excessive force and EVERY OTHER COP IN PORTLAND STONEWALLED HER, she couldn't do her job and was forced to quit.

the DA reiterated the bit about how no pdx cop has ever been found guilty of excessive force by a grand jury--yet they go to civil trial and the families of victims clean up. our city loves to shuck out the moolah, but god forbid they slap a pig on the wrist.

So Jack in this case you believe all or any portion of the police statements are fabricated, same with the witness statements? who/what exactly?

Its somewhat unprecidented for all the reports, grand jury transcript etc. to be released like this, at least this early in the process.

By the way,I did read the whole thing 'nonny mouse'

The ultimate irony with the "pro-police no matter what" set is that they are ultimately putting police officers in more danger.
If citizens are afraid that police will kill them for unjustifiable reasons, then they become the enemy and you have scenes like in that coffee shop in Washington State.
Giving power to the police has to be tightly controlled for their own good. This DA is not serving the citizens or the police by always siding with the cops no matter what.
Did you ever think that if the DA had acted differently in the Chasse case, this situation last week wouldn't have even happened?
Meanwhile our self-righteous city leaders - so full of themselves as they shape Portland's progressive reputation - are actually turning Portland into a national symbol of an out-of control police state. Thanks, Sam, but some things are more important than bicycles.

And one last point: Righties love using the self-defense argument here: The cop felt he was defending himself. That's a pillar of Lars logic in explaining this.
But remember the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Strikes that Lars and his right-wing suck-ups embraced as a reason to go into Iraq? That wasn't self-defense and they were fine with it.
According to their logic the police officer was right to kill this man because the man could have been planning to do something violent to the officer sometime in the future.
To hear them getting all huffy about self-defense now is sickening. We could have used that when they were waving their pompoms for President Bush to do a preemptive strike on Iraq.
A lot of you call yourselves Christians. What part of, "Thou shalt not kill" don't you understand?

The Boregonian's front page print coverage today was a pro-police piece of joking. Not a mention of leaving Campbell there bleeding out until long after he was dead. Normally, I don't read the Snoregonian but I was in a waiting area and it was laying around.

Where in the Constitution does it say that a Police officer is held to some other, higher standard for prosecution then anyone else. The Grand Jury said no bill. In my opinion it violates the officers rights to keep pushing this case.

There is a similar circumstance regarding the findings of the GJ, that the rules were followed, and the public perception that the officers are being exonerated. The GJ tried to say as much, but nobody is listening.

By stating that these cops followed the rules, the GJ in no way is saying that the way things went down is alright, or even less than negligent. All they are saying is that the cops followed the rules. People seem want to conflate this position into a cover-up, or special treatment.

I'm inclined to believe the cops did what their rules say to do. I am also inclined to believe those rules are flawed, old, draconian, broken, changed at a whim, disregarded when it suits, and all manner of chicanery. To me, this takes some of the heat off the racial-profiling angle.

Just incompetent cops messing up what were already just stupid rules. This isn't a race issue. This is a stupid and incompetent issue.

Westside Guy
Vance Longwell
it's called a *conflict of interest*
to quote jack:
"the grand jury is run entirely by the district attorney's office"
"the DA's office has a strong allegiance to the police force, with which it works 24-7-365"

grand juries make sense when the police want to see if they have enough probable cause/evidence for search warrant, they run it through a few DA-selected citizens, mind you, not randomly selected, and it pretty much never gets denied. grand juries are the first step in a process, it isn't like a real court room with plaintiffs and defendants.

but to use the grand jury to indict a police officer?
that's tantamount to me committing a murder--like shooting someone in the back or beating them to death--and at the grand jury, my attorney, and my attorney alone talks to 9 jury members (i believe a grand jury is nine) to plead for my innocence. no other side is heard, no other people are there.

yes, the cops have an lawyer that fights for them, and it's the district attorney.

using a grand jury run by the DA to indict a cop for what he did in the line of duty is absolute B*LLSH*T.

actually i think witnesses are allowed at grand jury hearings.
guess who calls the witnesses?

It's the dog which didn't bark. It's what's not there which is interesting. And you don't know what's not there without some sort of judicial audit. Which doesn't happen.

So evidence presented to the grand jury is interesting, but important parts are redacted, perhaps the most important witness was not presented, and potential information which was not presented.

Sorry - this process has failed. Those culpable don't get to design the reform. Public inquest please. No closed doors, no secrets.


Last time I checked, the "Righties" weren't the ones running this city and the PD for the past few decades. This is such a non-political issue, it is pathetic that you try to make one of it. There are many people disturbed and angry and wanting changes in the system, but isn't it interesting that the two politicians in charge (Adams, Saltzman) aren't leading the charge? Why aren't you citing them as Righties or claiming this is a "Lefty" issue?

Mike(the other one)

Please read my comment again. You wrote,"... isn't it interesting that the two politicians in charge (Adams, Saltzman) aren't leading the charge? Why aren't you citing them as Righties or claiming this is a "Lefty" issue?"

What about this paragraph from my comment?
"Meanwhile our self-righteous city leaders - so full of themselves as they shape Portland's progressive reputation - are actually turning Portland into a national symbol of an out-of control police state. Thanks, Sam, but some things are more important than bicycles."

Did you even read that or did you see the right wing criticism afterwards and become hysterical? Is that what happened?

I'm not making this a political issue. I believe that once we crossed the barrier towards safety at any cost - safety over freedom - all this other stuff followed.
We've got to go back to being the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave and not the Land of the Safe and the Home of the Scared. We are not the first Americans ever to face danger. We're just the first ones to turn over our liberties to the authorities because we were too scared to keep them.

This change took place under the war criminals known as the Bush administration and that is a historical fact.
I know the right wants to hide behind Sarah Palin's skirt right now, and play dumb with the record, but they should own what they did, and President Obama should try and correct it.

"I'm not making this a political issue."

Uhhh, yeah right. Not at all...

"This change took place under the war criminals known as the Bush administration and that is a historical fact.
I know the right wants to hide behind Sarah Palin's skirt right now, and play dumb with the record, but they should own what they did, and President Obama should try and correct it."

LOL. It's all Bush's fault!

"President Obama should try and correct it."

Yes, and he is... by closing Guantanamo Bay, bringing home the troops, etc. LOL

It's not all Bush's fault. A lot of it falls on the conservative movement for offering up this loser. I remember what America was like before he got here and I see what it's like now.
Unfortunately for you I'm willing to say President Obama has been a disaster because he didn't take all possible steps to get us back on the right path.
But don't forget who got us into this mess. And when Bush and Cheney were using the Constitution for toilet paper the right wing was right there, cheering them on.
Now of course, they've discovered freedom again. Now they want to cut way back on spending except for the wars.
There is a massive incessant campaign to rewrite history underway and the theme is, "Things were great 'til Obama took over."
You may be able to sell that swill to the morons who think Sarah Palin is brilliant but some of us aren't buying the B.S.
The Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Strike was not based on self defense. That is a historical fact. I see a direct link between that kind of thinking and the expanding authority of the police.
President Bush also believed anything he did was legal just because he could always say he was keeping us safe. Does that sound familiar?

Who's getting political? (a) you first suggested that the "tighty righty" part of the population somehow justifies the police action and (b) nobody but you started talking about Lars, Bush, Obama, Palin, etc. This is a LOCAL issue, yet you jumped right in about some national division as if that makes any difference about this poor guy's shooting.

If you are going to tar and feather people for their failure to restrain or supervise the police force, it isn't a conservative vs liberal issue. To make it one is, as I said before, pathetic.

Things regarding law enforcement in PDX before the current mayor were hardly positive and nobody is claiming they were.


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