Grand jury witnesses in criminal proceedings (particularly those who are or may become subjects or targets) often find themselves in a catch-22 situation. Testify and risk criminal charges. Or, assert the Fifth Amendment privilege and risk creating a false impression of guilt. Or, obtain (if possible) as much protection as possible via immunity.
We live in a global economy where international travel has seemingly become the norm. Airlines from all over the world carry passengers, not only from their own home countries, but also from their neighboring or distant foreign countries. With millions of international travelers on board, it is not uncommon to encounter unruly passengers displaying unacceptable behavior. But what happens when a passenger is accused of committing a crime, in particular sexual assault?
On October 24, 2017, a workgroup established by the California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye to study California’s bail system issued a report, recommending that California’s current money bail system should be replaced with a risk-based assessment and supervision program when determining whether a charged defendant should be in jail before he/she goes trial. This recommendation is based on a view that the current money bail system unfairly and unnecessarily compromises “a person’s liberty on financial resources rather than the likelihood of future criminal behavior,” the report said. “If adopted, the reforms envisioned in these recommendations will make major and dramatic changes to California’s criminal justice system.”
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment and sexual assault scandal, more and more women are coming out of the woodwork with stories of humiliating and horrifying encounters of unwanted sexual advances and/or sexual assault. The Internet is flooded with such stories. Stemming from casual encounters to long-term relationships, women victims are speaking up against their male perpetrators. But are all of their stories true?
It is not uncommon for witnesses in both state and federal grand jury proceedings to consider asserting the Fifth Amendment privilege. If the witnesses do decide to take the Fifth, must they do so in front of the grand jury?