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Relating to grand jury proceedings and establishing a commission to study improvements and alternatives to those proceedings.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated
SB 1492 would require questions by the grand jury or state attorney and testimony provided to be recorded either by a stenographer or by an electronic device. It would also prohibit a grand jury from investigating a person who is accused or suspected of an offense, and from voting to present an indictment for the offense if the person has previously been investigated by a grand jury for the same offense, the grand jury voted on whether to present an indictment, and fewer than nine grand jurors concurred in finding the bill. However, an exception is provided if the state attorney presents material evidence that was not known to the state attorney before or during the previous grand jury investigation.
Additionally, this bill would establish the Texas Commission on Grand Juries to develop recommendations for improvements to the grand jury system and explore alternative procedures for establishing probable cause to proceed to trial in a felony case.
Texas Action supports SB 1492 because it promotes limited government and individual liberty. While we applaud the protections provided in this bill by the recording requirements and prohibition on seeking subsequent indictments after a no bill, the committee substitute in its current form provides significantly less protection than the bill as filed. We would like to see the disclosure of exculpatory evidence requirements, as well as the allowance of an attorney to be present during questioning, to be added again to strengthen grand jury reform in a significant way.