Houston legal minds gather to discuss grand juries

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Some of the best legal minds in the Houston area converged on South Texas College of Law Saturday to discuss the grand jury system. Several high profile cases put the mostly secret system in the spotlight.

Back in December, protestors were yelling at the top of their lungs outside HPD headquarters. They were voicing their disappointment in with a grand jury's decision to not indict an officer in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Jordan Baker, who was unarmed.

"Communities all across America and especially here in Houston are concerned about the grand jury and its impact on the overall criminal justice system," said attorney Kim Ogg.

And that's why law officials gathered at South Texas College of Law -- to have a candid conversation about grand juries and explore the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

"I hope today starts a conversation about whether there a better way to select grand jurors and is there a better way to educate them and a better way to inspire public confidence in their work," said former court of appeals Justice Murry Cohen.

A big question here -- does the public have the right to know who sits on the grand jury?

"We depend on grand jury, tax money and the public has the right to believe their being chosen fairly, deliberating fairly and delivering a fair result," said Cohen.

"I think the stand is going to be we want change," said Ogg. "We want to know who our grand jurors are. We want independent jurors, not those selected by judges."

Former House Majority leader Tom Delay gave a fervent challenge.

"The bar association should be looking at what's going on and look at the kinds of reforms that need to be going on to protect people," he said.

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