Happiness Is Printing By t ? FUTURA PRESS Phone 512/442 7836 1714 SOUTH CONGRESS P.O. BOX 3485 AUSTIN, TEXAS Newspapers Magazines Political Specialists Signs and Placards Bumperstrips Office Supplies 100% Union Shop The Outpost Austin’s Best Barbecue 11:30-7:30 Daily, Except Sunday David and Marion Moss 345-9045 Highway 183 North THE WY floonsTortss liZST Or ‘r 14155iSSIPPLI 3 STOOD\( WAS. .4535 McKinney Ave. 5219 West Lovers Lane 206 South Zang ‘.N. o WA1310r6roit Aft. w were recognized as leaders in other social/political efforts to influence public attitudes in favor of a certain view of morality. Most of the jurors were not politically astute enough to perceive the political dynamics involved. Their lack of astuteness was more than compensated for by their dogmatic faith in the system, the prosecutors, law enforcement, etc. Some of the moral judgements the jurors made can be seen by their characterization of persons who use drugs or frequent adult theaters as “unsavory . . . low-life . . . scum .. . queers . . . hop heads . . . mafiosos… perverts . . . animals . . . punks.” One juror indicated that he followed and pushed the district attorney all the way despite his feelings that some of the “tactics of harassment he [Butler] used against adult theaters and bookstores were not perfectly legal.” San Antonio’s media lapped up the Butler Reports as soon as they were issued, breathlessly telling citizens that their fair community was a focal point of a national drug-porno-prostitution conspiracy. None of the reporters seemed interested in knowing where the grand juries got their information, how thorough their research was, how representative their memberships were, or most important, the political gains the district attorney was registering. Just who were the mysterious 15-year-old witnesses who would suddenly appear to tell about “how easy it was to get the hard stuff in school” or how they prowled the adult theaters in town selling their bodies for enough money for one more bottle of glue to sniff? One of the first things one researcher discovered during the 18 months spent working on a master’s thesis on the Bexar County grand juries was how little is really known about grand juries in general. There is only a paltry amount of literature on the subject and almost none on the political uses of the grand jury. Dozens of ex-jurors were interviewed and many were found to be ignorant of the basic functions and operations of the panel on which they served. Several indicated that their participation was almost exclusively restricted to listening and voting. THE PROCESS of selecting a grand jury in Texas smacks of cliqueism. The presiding county district court judge selects three to five jury commissioners, who each present a list of qualified jurors. In interviews with the aforementioned researcher, three of Bexar’s four district judges dealing with grand juries admitted that they usually picked friends or acquaintances, who in turn pick friends or acquaintances. The end result is a pattern of homogeneity in terms of ethnicity, sex, residence location, occupation, and attitudes. During the past 15 years, some men have served as jurors or commissioners as many as nine times. And yet it is this clubbish group which, in the name of the community, stands between the police powers of the state and the citizenry, to issue true bills of indictment or no bills, or, of course, special reports. The first two functions can directly affect most everyone’s life and the third can do so in a more subtle way by legitimizing moral attitudes. Another study confirmed that Mexican-American participation on grand juries has consistently deviated from 40 to 60 percent of the ideal \(that is, Females have suffered even more, often being excluded entirely from panels. female participation deviated 60 to 100 percent from the ideal. The women chosen to serve were overwhelmingly housewives and secretaries. Perhaps the district attorney would be embarrassed to talk about S-E-X and S-I-N in front of too many innocent womenfolk. But what exactly does the district attorney get out of all this? First, the reports from the obscure but revered grand jury serve to legitimize his policy on moral issues such as drugs, pornography, and organized crime. \(The issues can certainly when used properly, the reports generate support of those policies; this support, in turn, reinforces the legitimacy of the report. The energy generated through the water wheel of public opinion is received by the district attorney and converted to political power through votes at election time, legislative programs, and the administrative allocation of priorities and resources. Butler has been tremendously successful in his efforts. He easily won election against weak opposition in 1970; in the 1974 primary he crushed a strong opponent. Particularly this year, the themes of the grand jury special reports were the backbone of the district attorney’s campaign. He promised more investigations of pornography, organized crime, and child molestation. Amid cries of foul from his opponent, he even launched the grand jury into a special investigation of juvenile drug use during the heat of the race. He acted as the jury’s spokesman on numerous occasions. From obscurity at the time of his appointment, Butler has become one of the most powerful and secure politicos in Bexar County. Apparently hoping for a better offer, he has already withdrawn himself from consideration for a civil judgeship appointment. There is every indication that he will get that better offer before his new four-year term expires. Meantime, he’ll probably go on uncovering one sinful conspiracy after another, ignoring problems that many feel are more pressing, such as operation of the jail, police brutality, and improper use of public funds or position. What can be done? The first step is to bring the abuses of the system into public focus. The public must recognize that the system does not work as it is generally assumed to work. The products should be identified as those of a politically motivated official and a group of unrepresentative cronies. Concerned citizens in other counties should examine their systems for similar ills. After careful study, the Legislature should either move to abolish the grand jury or allocate the resources necessary for independent and competent investigation. A few substantive steps in the latter direction would be the establishment of an investigative staff responsible only to the grand jury, increased representativeness of the jury, expansion of the scope of things the grand jury may examine, and a standardized training course to orient jurors. Indictments should be by information unless the defendant requests a grand jury review, thus reducing the caseload. Jurors should follow the old adage and learn the difference between crime and sin and act accordingly. Judges November 15, 1974 9
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