Mark E. Schneider : Courses and Seminars
The Grand Jury: History, Law and Practice
The grand jury is one of the least-understood institutions within the United States criminal justice system. A pre-constitutional institution with medieval English origins, the grand jury system that survives today is unique to the United States. Critics suggest that the grand jury has become an institution that is paradoxically both too powerful and obsolete, and that its independence and role as a safeguard of liberty has been compromised. In contrast, other proposals have sought to expand the grand jury’s authority to disclose its secret proceedings for national security purposes and to use grand jury evidence in parallel civil litigation. This seminar will examine critically the historical origin, development, and purposes of the grand jury. With this foundation, we will then devote most of the seminar to studying modern grand jury practice, including the law of secrecy and disclosure, parallel proceedings, the role of immunity and privileges, obstruction and false statement prosecutions, charging instruments, and the regulation of prosecutorial discretion. In doing so, we will consider the perspectives of counsel for witnesses or subjects, government prosecutors, and broader policy interests. Finally, we will consider reform proposals, alternatives to the grand jury, and how the institution may evolve. Grades will be based on response papers together with participation and practical exercises.
Mark E. Schneider