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Old April 13, 2012, 12:45 PM   #1
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Join Date: April 28, 2000
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 705
5th and 14th question : Grand Juries

Although this is more a general Constitutional law question than gun related, it does concern many cases which are definitely gun related (including the current "case which must not be mentioned"). I realize it’s a bit on the edge of relevance to this site, but was wondering if there might be an avenue here to use the 14th Amendment to limit overzealous prosecutors in high profile cases … especially in cases where the prosecutor could reap political gain by an indictment of an "evil gunowner".
Assuming the moderators allow this post as relevant enough to gun rights …PleaseNO mention of current high-profile cases.

Anyway …

The Fifth amendment guarantees that in capital and otherwise infamous crimes, the accused cannot be held to answer except upon presentment or indictment by a Grand Jury.

As I understand it, an "infamous crime" under common law was generally held to be one of fraud or one which caused public scandal; but "infamous crime" under federal law includes all crimes punishable by more than one year of incarceration.
Since States vary greatly in their standards of which crimes require a Grand Jury for indictment (some including crimes punishable by life in prison as not requiring a Grand Jury), either SCOTUS has chosen to selectively apply the 5th Amendment guarantees to the States through the 14th Amendment, or has not yet heard a case specifically addressing indictment by a Grand Jury as an individual right.

Finally… the questions for you high-powered legal types (assuming the above impressions are accurate … otherwise, the question is simply "where am I being stupid")

If selective application of the 5th Amendment is the rule of the day for SCOTUS, what is the reasoning ?
(An absurd notion that indictment by Grand Jury is not a privilege or immunity? A narrow definition of "infamous crime" under Constitutional law combined with a broader definition under federal law ?)

What landmark cases address the decision to not apply the same standard of "infamous crime" to the States ?

or …

If no case has been taken to SCOTUS specifically addressing indictment by Grand Jury as one of the privileges and immunities, why not?
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