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Secret Trials Violate Due Process Right


In In re Oliver, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the conviction of a Michigan man who was convicted and sentenced during a secret grand jury hearing before a single judge. The hearing had occurred under a Michigan law allowing a single judge to hold secret grand jury proceedings. The Court does not rule on the law because it was not challenged by the defendant. Grand jury proceedings, held to decide whether to issue an indictment (confirming enough evidence exists to take a case to full trial), traditionally are conducted in private. In this case, the one-man grand jury went further when the judge also decided the defendant’s guilt and sentenced him to jail.