The Slatest

New York’s Top Judge Calls for Grand Jury Reform After Series of High Profile Failures

A demonstrator is arrested following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer who used a chokehold on Eric Garner.

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

New York’s top judge announced a plan on Tuesday to overhaul the method in which grand juries preside over cases in the state. Judge Jonathan Lippman made his pitch for reform during the annual State of the Judiciary Address, after a Staten Island grand jury chose not to indict police officers for the death of Eric Garner, which was one of a series of high profile instances nationwide of grand juries failing to indict police caught on video in altercations that lead to the death of unarmed black men.

“Lippman said his legislation will require a judge to preside over grand jury proceedings that involve allegations of homicide or felony assault arising out of police-civilian encounters… and [h]is legislation will be in favor of having the court disclose the records of grand jury proceedings that result in no charges, under certain conditions.” the Associated Press reports.

“Lippman said his proposals would aid public access and confidence in the justice system, ‘preserve the integrity of the judicial branch, law enforcement, and the institution of the grand jury — in many ways, a relic of another time that must be modernized and updated to meet the complex challenges of today’s justice system,’” according to the Albany’s Times-Union.