Ohio chief justice says court can’t eliminate grand juries

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, center, announces a plan for first-ever statewide police standards for the proper use of force, recruiting and hiring, on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Former state senator Nina Turner, left, and state public safety director John Born, right, both played roles in the standards' creation. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, center, announces a plan for first-ever statewide police standards for the proper use of force, recruiting and hiring, on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Former state senator Nina Turner, left, and state public safety director John Born, right, both played roles in the standards' creation. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court has told a state senator the court is powerless to get rid of the grand jury process.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor’s statement Monday came in response to a letter from state Sen. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, urging the court to replace closed-door grand juries with a public indictment process.

Williams, a member of Gov. John Kasich’s police and community relations task force, says grand juries should be replaced with an open process to build public trust in the handling of fatal police shootings.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that according to O’Connor the Ohio Constitution guarantees defendants in serious criminal cases a right to a grand jury review.

O’Connor says changing the process requires amending the constitution.

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