Article Title

Grand Jury Reports—A Safeguard of Democracy

Publication Title

Washington University Law Quarterly


The right of a grand jury to report on the actions of public officials and on general conditions in its community offers to the citizens of a democracy a most effective means of controlling gross inefficiency or misconduct of public officers. One of the appealing facets of the activity of a grand jury in reporting upon conditions and public officials is the absence of authoritarian efficiency, and this has not detracted from its importance as an effective safeguard of citizens' rights in a democracy. A grand jury is a short-lived, representative, non-political body of citizens functioning without hope of personal aggrandizement. It comes from the citizens at large and soon disappears into its anonymity without individual recognition or personal reward and without ability to perpetuate itself in the public hierarchy. Grand juries are not remembered by the names of the individual members, but are recalled or forgotten by what they may have accomplished or failed to accomplish.