No, Georgia Officials Didn’t Err In Releasing Trump Indictment With Grand Jurors’ Names

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis enters a room in the Fulton County Government Center ahead of a news conference, Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. Donald Trump and several allies have been indicted in Georgia over efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

CLAIM: Officials in Fulton County, Georgia, forgot to redact the names of the grand jurors who indicted former President Donald Trump this week in relation to his actions following the 2020 election.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. It is standard that indictments in Georgia include the names of the grand jurors, in part because it provides defendants the opportunity to challenge the composition of the grand jury, legal experts told The Associated Press.

THE FACTS: A grand jury in Georgia on Monday indicted Trump as well as 18 others for their alleged efforts to overturn the results of his 2020 election loss in the state.

On social media, some quickly spread a claim that officials erred in releasing the indictment by including the jurors’ names.

“First they ‘leak’ the indictment before the jury even voted, then they forget to redact juror names,” reads one popular post on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, seemingly referencing the fact that the court accidentally posted a list of criminal charges against Trump before he was actually indicted.

Another post similarly claimed: “They were in such a rush, they forgot to redact the names of the Grand Jurors. Unbelievable.”

But legal experts in the state told the AP that including the jurors’ names, unredacted, is standard in Georgia.

“In every felony case that I have handled in Georgia both as a former prosecutor and now defense lawyer, the names of the grand jurors have appeared on the Indictment,” Gabe Banks, a former Fulton County deputy district attorney, said in an email. Banks noted that indictments will usually show some names that are struck through, indicating jurors who were not present or didn’t vote.

Banks said a prosecutor would likely need to seek special permission from a court to redact the names of the jurors in an indictment.

Adam Hames, a former Georgia assistant attorney general, likewise said that it’s “common practice to list the names of the grand jurors on the indictment.” Even though grand jury proceedings are generally secret, he said, including the grand jurors’ names allows the defense to present a challenge if necessary.

In fact, the Georgia Supreme Court has consistently held that an indictment without the names of grand jurors is considered “defective,” said Elizabeth Taxel, an assistant clinical professor of law at the University of Georgia.

Though there isn’t a Georgia statute that explicitly states that the names of the grand jurors must be written in the indictment, “that requirement is both inferred from the statutes governing the grand jury process and is established through hundred years of case law,” Taxel said in an email.

Like others, Taxel said including the names affords defendants the opportunity to challenge the composition of the grand jury and also provides public transparency into the criminal process.

“Pragmatically, a defendant can’t challenge an aspect of an indictment they can’t examine, including who makes up the grand jury that indicts them,” she said.

AP

___

This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

 
 

News Sources

  • ABC
  • Access Hollywood
  • Associated Press
  • BBC
  • Bloomberg
  • Boston Globe
  • C-SPAN
  • CBS
  • Chicago Sun-Times
  • Christian Science Monitor
  • Center for Public Integrity
  • CNN
  • Congressional Quarterly
  • Democracy Now!
  • Digg
  • E! Online
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • Financial Times
  • Forbes
  • Foreign Policy
  • Fortune
  • Front Street Magazine

  • U.S. News, World News
  • Business, Politics
  • Entertainment, Sports
  • Art, Lifestyle
  • Videos And More
  • News Sources

  • Fox News
  • Google News
  • Guardian
  • Huffington Post
  • Independent
  • LA Weekly
  • Los Angeles Times
  • McClatchy
  • Mother Jones
  • National Journal
  • NBC New
  • New York Post
  • New York Times
  • Newsweek
  • Newsy
  • NPR
  • PBS NewsHour
  • People
  • Politico
  • Reuters
  • TPM
  • Washington Post
  • Thanks For Your Support!

     

    Copyright © 2024 Front Street. All Rights Reserved.

    Skip to toolbar