Grand Juries on Witness Intimidation Are Challenged

The Legal Intelligencer — August 14, 2013

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court restored the use of indicting grand juries for cases involving witness intimidation, the First Judicial District has been addressing a series of concerns about Philadelphia’s application of the charging tool. Several issues have become topics of discussion such as the defendant’s; access to the material presented to the grand jury and protecting the constitutional rights of witnesses who give incriminating testimony. Another issue is whether defendants will be held in jail for long periods of time while their cases go through the indicting grand jury process.

The Legal Intelligencer interviewed attorneys Michael Engle and Ron Greenblatt in a recent article, “Grand Juries on Witness Intimidation Are Challenged”. Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores attorneys Michael Engle with Ronald Greenblatt and other defense attorneys are challenging the validity of the Supreme Court’s authorization of indicting grand juries. They argue that the substantive rights of criminal defendants are affected and the change was not a matter that the court could enact in a procedural rule.

“While there is witness intimidation and it does occur, it doesn’t happen to the extent the commonwealth is making it out to be or that the judges are even buying into,” said Michael J. Engle, of Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores, in an interview. “It’s not as rampant as they are making it sound.”

Attorney Ronald Greenblatt added, “This crosses the line into fundamental unfairness.”

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