In Other News: The Grand Jury

A look at a current news item through the lens of different titles available on GVRL.

By Michelle Eickmeyer

Earlier this week, I read this article about growing concern with the silent dwindling of the wild giraffe population around the world. I really wanted to write about giraffes. But I can’t. Instead, this week we’ll focus on the concept of the grand jury and what, for many, seems like a system which makes no sense and is mightily broken.

Two grand juries returned verdicts this week in cases involving a white police officer and the death of a black man. From lack of proof to belief that ample proof was ignored, protests and press conferences, the strength of the American legal system was the lead story every day this week. For better, or worse.

Here are five titles that look at the grand jury from different perspectives:

Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice Ethics, 1st Edition. Sage Publications, 2014.

 The concept of a jury is a unique and vital part of American law. The right to be judged by an impartial group of your peers and presumed innocent are uncommon around the globe. Explore the duties, responsibilities and rights of the vital, volunteer part of the American justice system.

Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences, 2nd Edition. Academic Press, 2013.

On July 17, Eric Garner died in New York after being stopped by four police officers who suspected him of and attempted to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes. During the arrest, an officer put Garner in what appears to be a choke hold. Mr. Garner, who suffers from asthma, heart disease and a number of other medical issues, dies. The entire incident is captured by police cameras and has been widely circulated. The NYPD had maintained the use of take-down tactics were used and that what is shown on the footage is not a choke hold. Opinions on that abound. Learn the realities of asphyxia and symptoms and other cause of asphyctic death here.

Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, 3rd Edition. Gale, 2013.

Did someone do something illegal? At the very basic level, the grand juries in these two cases had to answer that question, and that question alone. And before the officers in each case acted, they had to ask the same question. Is this person committing a crime? Learn more about types of crimes and what is, by law, illegal, and more in this title

Supreme Court from A to Z, 2nd Edition. CQ Press, 2012.

Did you know that the standard “jury of your peers” is actually called a petite jury? Can you explain how the 5th Amendment changed the value of the grand jury, and in which states prosecutors can charge someone without a grand jury? Find this information – and a lot more! – inside this title.

The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia, 1st Edition. Sage Publications, 2012.

“Perhaps no other racial or ethnic group in history has had its human identity and social history so constructed and determined by legislation, judicial pronouncement, and assessments of criminality and punishment than Africans in America.” Race played heavily in the conversation of justice this week: Both victims were black, both police officers where white. Take a deeper look at how the law affects the lives and history of African Americans with this title.


photoAbout the Author

Michelle is an “anytime!” traveler and language enthusiast. She has degrees in talking from Central Michigan and Michigan State University. She is currently becoming a runner and used to play golf in high school.



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