Georgia moved closer to the mainstream this week in how the criminal justice system handles police shooting cases.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new grand jury law on Tuesday that curbed the special treatment officers receive when they go before a grand jury when facing possible criminal charges.
Georgia had been the only state in the country that allowed officers to sit in the grand jury room the entire proceeding, hear all the evidence against them and make a statement at the end that can’t be challenged by prosecutors or grand jurors.
The new law, which follows an AJC/Channel 2 Action News investigation last year into the grand jury process, limits an officers presence in the grand jury to the period when they give a statement. That statement will now be subject to cross-examination.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, will also provide additional transparency to otherwise secretive grand jury proceedings. A transcript of the grand jury hearing will be created in serious police shooting cases. It should offer the public a clearer picture of the evidence presented and shed light on the grand jury’s decision.