Murry Cohen Pens Op-Ed for Houston Chronicle on Grand Jury Reforms

Murry Cohen, a partner in Akin Gump’s litigation practice in Houston, has authored an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle suggesting reforms to the grand jury system.

Too often, Cohen argues, grand juries fail to meet their goal of “[representing] a broad cross-section of the population of the county, considering the factors of race, sex and age.” In order to restore faith in the system, Cohen argues that changes are needed that will both “encourage independent judgment by grand jurors” as well as “give those of us outside the grand jury room more confidence in those within.”

Drawing from his experience as a former prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, appellate court judge and grand juror, Cohen lays out several proposed changes that he says are both legal and could be implemented quickly:

  • Stop using grand jury commissioners to select grand jurors.
  • Schedule grand jury meetings to accommodate working people .
  • Reveal the names of grand jurors.
  • Reduce repetitive service.
  • Eliminate indoctrination of grand jurors by the state.

Cohen closes by arguing that these changes, if enacted, will help grand juries perform their unique function of “limiting the power of government's executive branch…by standing between it and the citizen accused of crime.”