The Patina of Process

If a lay person is feeling confident about the American judicial process, he believes it is the “best in the world” and rigorous.

The belief that the American justice system is the “best in the world” and “rigorous” and “truth-seeking” is an almost religious conviction, repeated in courtrooms and in newspapers, and on Twitter, too!

What the American criminal justice system excels at is promoting the appearance of fairness, process, and rigor, without actually providing it. And that makes sense: fairness, process, and rigor are time consuming and expensive to provide. But the patina – the appearance – of those things is relatively cheap to promote, and relatively inexpensive.

The Grand Jury “Process”

As some Americans now understand in the wake of the Ferguson non-indictment, the Grand Jury process is hardly a process at all. It is a tool of the prosecution that does the prosecution’s bidding. In North Carolina, there isn’t even recording of the proceedings of a Grand Jury.

And, yet, reporters frequently will intone that so-and-so was “indicted by a Grand Jury,” as if this fact is of any importance at all.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.