This bill would require states to reform the grand jury process that oversees law enforcement officers who are involved in deadly-force cases. If states choose not to comply, H.R. 429 would cut some of their federal law enforcement funding.
By threatening to take away federal law enforcement grants, the bill hopes to increase transparency and eliminate potential bias in the grand jury process. After a law enforcement officer uses deadly-force on a civilian while on duty, the incident must be reported within 24 hours to the local district attorney. The district attorney must then issue a report to the state’s governor within another 24 hour period.
Within three days of receiving this notice, the governor of the state would appoint a special prosecutor to decide if there is probable cause to bring charges against the law enforcement officer. The special prosecutor would be selected at random, and a judge would determine if there is evidence to support the charges.
Under this bill, the hearing before a judge must happen within 90 days of a special prosecutor being appointed — unless the judge finds good reason for it to be delayed. During the hearing, the court would be required to remain open to the public. The public would also receive notice about the date, time, and location of the hearing.
Within five days of the conclusion of the hearing, the judge would make a ruling and release their findings to the public and the district attorney in the area where the death happened. The special prosecutor would also submit recommendations to the local district attorney.
The hearing process would be considered purely advisory, and the special prosecutors’ recommendations will not be binding upon the local district attorney.