What’s believed to be the first state task force in the nation to study how grand juries operate begins its work in Columbus next week. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports on the commission formed by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor after controversial decisions not to indict police officers in two killings in Ohio.
The mission of the 18-member task force is to study how grand juries work in Ohio and in other states -- including the instructions they get when they are considering whether there is enough evidence for someone to face a trial on criminal charges.
But Chief Justice O’Connor underscored that grand juries have been part of Ohio law since its first constitutional convention in 1802. And she declared that is not going to change.
“I formed the task force to recommend ways to improve the functioning of the grand juries and to see what additional steps can be taken to improve the public’s confidence in our justice system. The task force will not be asked to determine whether the grand jury system should be eliminated. It is embedded in our Constitution.”
The vice chairman of the task force is Wayne County Prosecutor Daniel Lutz and members include Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Steven Gall and Cleveland Municipal Judge Michelle Early. Its report is to be filed with O’Connor by June 15.
Here are the members of the task force:
- Judge Stephen L. McIntosh – Franklin County Common Pleas Court (chair)
- Prosecutor Daniel R. Lutz – Wayne County (vice chair)
- Sen. Kevin Bacon – District 3
- Sen. Edna Brown – District 11
- Judge Joyce A. Campbell – Fairfield Municipal Court
- Rep. Robert R. Cupp – District 4
- Judge Michelle D. Earley – Cleveland Municipal Court
- Judge William R. Finnegan – Marion County Common Pleas Court
- Judge Steven E. Gall – Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
- Professor Mark A. Godsey – University of Cincinnati College of Law
- Judge Michael R. Goulding – Lucas County Common Pleas Court
- Colonel Chief Eliot Isaac – City of Cincinnati Police Department
- President/CEO Janet E. Jackson – United Way of Central Ohio
- Judge Melissa A. Powers – Hamilton County Municipal Court
- Professor Ric Simmons – The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
- Rep. Fred Strahorn – District 39
- Defense Attorney Roger Synenberg – Synenberg, Coletta & Moran, LLC
- Judge Stephen A. Wolaver – Greene County Common Pleas Court