State legislators who back dumping the use of John Doe investigations for many alleged crimes argue that the state can use grand juries instead. There are obvious differences between John Doe and grand jury proceedings. In a John Doe, the presiding judge has broad discretion to issue subpoenas and search warrants. In a grand jury, the jurors listen to testimony given by witnesses and can either return and indictment or not.
But good luck getting a grand jury seated in this age of multiple jobs and crazy schedules. Sayeth the law: "Grand jurors shall serve for a period of 31 consecutive days unless more days are necessary to complete service in a particular proceeding." The law allows the presiding judge to discharge a grand jury at any time, but who will be wiling to even entertain the possibility of giving up a month of their lives?
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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