Pizza and Politics: Grand juries

The Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service welcomed students to their weekly Pizza and Politics event discussing grand juries on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Carson Brown and Jakob Gertler, both members of the executive council for the Leavitt Center, presented students with information regarding the process of grand juries.

To begin the discussion, Gertler asked the audience their knowledge on grand juries.

The audience laughed when Josh Anderson, a member of the Leavitt Center jokingly said, “Absolutely nothing.” 

Brown and Gertler explained the importance of grand jurors in misdemeanor and felony cases by giving the audience examples of crimes. Gertler then asked if it is productive to have grand jury involvement in cases. 

“I think it helps strengthen a case,” Karaline Taylor, a member of the Leavitt Center, said. “Jurors can also call for additional evidence, witnesses or subpoenas.”

Alex Cellers, an SUU senior, disagreed with the juror’s involvement. 

“It can make cases take longer and can result in a miscarriage of justice.” 

When comparing and contrasting the differences with grand juries and impeachment, Gertler asked the question if the House should choose civilian jurors for an impeachment investigation. 

Ashley Cannon, an SUU student, believed it would be hard to find an accurate representation.

“Normal jurors are chosen from the same area as the case, but with impeachment that is trickier because the president represents the entire country,” Cannon said. 

Olivia Johnson, a member of the Leavitt Center, considered the idea as a “double edged sword.”

“It is hard to grasp where these jurors would need to be picked from, but I think there is a need for it because Congress is really biased,” Johnson said. 

Public opinion has become a controversial issue regarding the judicial system. Most federal judges have rejected televising trials because it can deprive defendants of a fair trial and prejudice trial outcomes. 

Gertler asked the audience if public opinion should have a place in the judicial system.

Abby Shelton, a member of the Leavitt Center, does not think public opinion is meant for the judicial system. 

“Although it is virtually impossible for public opinion to be completely out of the judicial system, it should be out of it as much as possible,” Shelton said. 

Taylor acknowledged the level of public involvement already in place.

“It is interesting because grand juries are selected from the public randomly,” Taylor said. “The investigation relies more on opinion while the trial relies on facts. That is a healthy balance of public opinion.”

The next Pizza and Politics will be Wednesday, Nov. 17 at noon. The topic being discussed will be supply chains in room 112 of the Sharwan Smith Student Center.

Article and Photo by: Lexi Hamel