The San Jose Mercury News reports that, instead of making the decision herself, Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr is expected to ask a secret grand jury this week to determine whether a pair of San Jose cops criminally tried to cover up a former officer's dangerous drunken driving.
"It is a way of deflecting criticism regardless of the outcome," said Gerald F. Uelmen, a law professor at Santa Clara University. Uelmen said indicting an officer can damage the normally cooperative relationship between prosecutors and police. And not indicting officers can generate public criticism of a double standard.
Uelmen and other critics said the secrecy of the proceeding would not allow the public to get a clear view of the evidence or its presentation by prosecutors. George Kennedy, Carr's predecessor as DA, opened up grand juries in at least two major cases: the fatal police shooting of a Vietnamese woman in 2003 and the shooting of a suspect by a state narcotics agent in 2005.
"It's important that as much transparency as possible be afforded to the process," San Jose Independent Police Auditor Barbara Attard said.