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Grand Jury Reform

The grand jury system in Texas undermines the ability of the grand jury to function as an independent body, making it ripe for abuse and inconsistent outcomes. The grand jury was designed as a safeguard against unfounded prosecution, but the state now wields a significant amount of power in a legal body originally intended to serve as a check on the government. Texas should implement reforms to right-size state power in the grand jury system without impairing the government’s ability to prosecute criminal activity.


  • Require prosecutors to present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury
  • Preclude subsequent grand juries without new, material evidence
  • Transcribe or record grand jury proceedings
  • Provide the accused and witnesses a right to presence of counsel (in a non-participatory role) in the grand jury room

Talking points for liberty fighters

  • The grand jury proceeding should not be adversarial, but it should be fair to the accused. Only prosecutors present to the grand jury and the rules of evidence do not generally apply. As a basic protection for citizens, prosecutors should be required to present exculpatory evidence at this stage of the criminal justice process.
  • The state may present the same evidence to successive grand juries without restrictions until an indictment is returned or the statute of limitations runs out. This negates the purpose of the procedural safeguard and undermines the grand jury’s independence.
  • Witnesses and the accused are only allowed to be in the grand jury room while testifying. They face the possibility of self-incrimination, the waiver of important privileges, and imprisonment for contempt. Allowing counsel to merely be present without the ability to participate during testimony will ensure they navigate these legal hazards.
  • Only the testimony of the accused must be recorded or transcribed. Requiring a full transcription of the proceedings would facilitate case preparation for both sides.

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