Fla. Supreme Court approves Crist's grand jury
Only two days after denying an initial request for a statewide grand jury because it was too vague, the Florida Supreme Court has approved a more detailed request submitted by Gov. Charlie Crist.
Originally aimed at public corruption, the new grand jury would look at a lengthy list of crimes -- including burglary, drug offenses, RICO crimes and fraud. The statewide grand jury could return indictments on crimes as long as they were committed in two or more of Florida's 20 judicial circuits.
Victor Tobin, the chief judge of the 17th judicial circuit in Broward County (where much of the recent corruption has occured), was designated at the presiding judge of the grand jury. The initial request was denied 6-1. Wednesday's request was approved 7-0.
Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum both praised the decision. Their statements are below:
Crist: “The Florida Supreme Court’s decision today to convene a Statewide Grand Jury confirms the need to examine ways we can prevent corruption by elected officials. I commend the Court for ordering the empanelment of the Statewide Grand Jury to investigate crimes committed by local and state officials when acting in their official capacity.
“The Statewide Grand Jury will add to the great work already being done by Florida’s 20 State Attorneys to target criminal activity among elected officials. I am confident the Statewide Grand Jury will help give these fine public servants the tools they need to rid our state of corruption and restore the public trust.
“We must remain committed to creating an environment where any crime committed by a public official is exposed and addressed as quickly as possible. Once established, I encourage the Statewide Grand Jury to swiftly make recommendations so that limitations in current law can be addressed during next year’s legislative session.”
McCollum: “Public officials should be held accountable for any illegal and dishonorable actions that violate the public's trust. They should adhere to a higher standard, not make a mockery of the offices with which they were entrusted."
“This statewide grand jury will work to suggest common sense changes that instill confidence and public trust. Our Statewide Prosecutor will work with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida’s State Attorneys to identify investigations and cases to bring before the grand jury. I am confident our work will have a significant impact.”