FRANKFORT— Attorney General Andy Beshear is supporting legislation that would allow Kentucky’s Supreme Court to convene a special grand jury for multi-jurisdictional crimes.

" /> FRANKFORT— Attorney General Andy Beshear is supporting legislation that would allow Kentucky’s Supreme Court to convene a special grand jury for multi-jurisdictional crimes.

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Attorney General Andy Beshear proposes statewide grand jury for special cases

09/27/2018 01:11 PM

FRANKFORT— “Our criminals don’t stop at our jurisdictional borders, don’t stop committing crimes because it would switch from one Commonwealth Attorney to another,” said Kentucky’s Attorney General Andy Beshear.
In a news conference to announce new legislation, the Democrat was flanked by victim services groups and also Democratic leaders from Jefferson County.
Beshear says the new legislation for a special statewide grand jury they say will help them stop crime and violence rings. “This gives us the opportunity to truly investigate, and stop once and for all, institutional activity and or drug, human trafficking or crime rings that are operating,” he said.
As the bill is written, the Office of the Attorney General would be able to petition Kentucky’s Supreme Court to create a special statewide grand jury for up to six months, but with three month extensions available.
Jim Wayne, a representative from Jefferson County said the decision for this legislation came following allegations of widespread abuse from within the Catholic church in Pennsylania. At the news conference, Wayne said, “I’ll speak as a legislator and also a Catholic. What we have in the Catholic Church right now is a major crisis of trust. We cannot trust our leaders, and I think this is admitted by our leaders. What this legislation will do is give us an opportunity as a society to make sure that everything is known about the history of sex abuse in the Catholic Church.”
Pennsylvania has a law that allows its Supreme Court to convene a special grand jury, but Kentucky does not.
The grand jury would be able to indict people on a multi-jurisdictional scale, but prosecution would still happen locally. Beshear explained, “We would have to have multiple proceedings that that’s because there are some constitutional implications about how jurisdiction is provided to our Commonwealth Attorneys and when and where the Attorney General can come in and there’s also some constitutional limitations on the actual indictments and we’re trying to respect those limitations.”
While facing the accused is always hard for victims, Shively representative Joni Jenkins says ultimately victims gain strength from doing it. She explained, “For many of our victims, especially of sexual assault or other assaults, there is validation in being able to have your voice heard in a courtroom. They want to be believed and respected in that arena. So I think this is just one more step that General Beshear has done to create a victim centered prosecution and investigation here.”
The Democratic lawmaker has previously worked in victim services.
Kentucky is currently a Republican trifecta, but Beshear says he hopes politics will stay out of this bill. Passionately he said, “Child abuse doesn’t care if you’re a democrat or republican or an independent. it traumatizes that child and that family regardless. We better be able to rise above any of that, any ranker and any partisanship to seek justice for those that need our help the most. and it would be shameful, absolutely shameful for people to not consider passing this bill simply because of partisan grounds. The people of Kentucky demand better than that.”
The sponsor of the bill, Representative Jeff Donahue says he hopes to have Republicans come forward and support the bill.

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