In the past I’ve written about the problems that exist within the Grand Juries of Tennessee and I spoke to Senator Mae Beavers about some of those problems. She apparently listened, at least partially.
One problem is the length of time that a foreperson can serve, which is basically until the person dies if the Circuit Court Judge chooses. While this bill doesn’t address the appointment process, it is a step in the right direction. I do believe the 4 year time frame should be limited to a 2 years, because you should have the opportunity to go back to a different Grand Jury Foreperson before the statute of limitations runs out on crimes, but at least this bill stops the same person from serving for 20+ years as we have seen in several Counties.
This bill isn’t before a Committee yet, but when it is we need to support it. Unfortunately, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey recently stripped Senator Mae Beavers from her Chairmanship on the the Senate Judiciary Committee and turned the leadership of the Committee over to attorneys, which is not good.
As far as I have seen Mae Beavers in action she ran a fair Committee, allowing all sides to state their positions even if she disagreed with them. That has not been the case with Senator Kelsey. When I watched him Chair a hearing, he cut the opposition off and ram-rodded the bill through making the hearing a dog and pony show. When I spoke to Doug Overbey about Grand Jury problems, he was happy with the status quo. Thus, I do not believe the change in leadership to be a good thing.
I’ll try to keep everyone informed when this bill is before Committees but if I don’t and you see it up for a hearing, please let me know and contact the members of the Committee urging their support.