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The scales of justice are supposed to be blind but they weren't supposed to have overlooked Eguene Grayer's criminal record.
"He was convicted here in
Davidson County in 1978. At that time it, the crime was called attempt
to commit a felony," District Attorney General Torry Johnson said during a news conference at his office on Thursday.
Grayer was working for United Parcel Service at the time. Court records show he was part of a scheme to steal 20-thousand dollars worth of packages from his employer. Grayer was sentenced to 5-years probation and ordered to make restitution.
Fast forward 33-years. In the Summer of 2011 Metro criminal court judge Monte Watkins appointed Grayer to be foreman of a county grand jury. The grand jury hears hundreds of criminal cases for the purpose of determining if there's probably cause to believe the suspect committed the crime he or she is charged with. If they find probable cause, a grand jury returns a true bill or indictment.
Tennessee law makes it illegal for anyone convicted of a felony to serve as the foreman of a county grand jury.
Because Grayer was allowed to serve, the nearly 9-hundred indictments his grand jury handed down have been called into question.
"If that document is invalid, my argument is the entire trial is invalid and should be thrown out," said Jim Todd a former assistant district attorney turned defense attorney. Todd believes trial judges will set aside or dismiss any cases in which defendants indicted by Grayer's grand jury make a request.
Fox 17 has learned there is no case law to guide judges in this particular matter. Because of that, this case will almost certainly wind up before a Tennessee appeals court. Judges there will instruct the lower courts how to proceed. Defense attorney Jim Todd says defendants will have to determine whether starting over is in their best interest. He says there are a myriad of possible legal outcomes. "If your case is pending what do you want to do about it? You want to go into court and say please dismiss my indictment? Maybe you do if you're in jail because that would release you from jail," Todd said during a Thursday afternoon interview at his downtown office.
About 8-hundred of the cases handled by the grand jury Eugene Grayer presided over have already been settled. About 90 cases are still pending. The district attorneys office says it has contacted the lawyers representing those defendants. "Worst case scenario, all of those cases would have to be brought back to court and their cases redone -- either by criminal information, criminal indictment etc. That could include trials," according to D.A. Torry Johnson. Both Jim Todd and Johnson, however, believe relatively few of the cases will actually have to begin completely anew.
So how could this happen? The Nashville District Attorney's office does criminal background checks on everyone who sits on a county grand jury. But the foreperson is selected by the trial judge overseeing a particular session of the grand jury. It's the judge's responsibility to vet the foreperson.
The question now is did Eugene Grayer lie about his criminal conviction or did judge Watkins fail to ask Grayer if he had ever been convicted of a felony something which would disqualify him from service. "I find it really hard to believe anyone did this knowing the guy had a previous felony," said defense attorney Jim Todd.
Eugene Grayer is not answering his telephone. Judge Watkins' office says his honor is legally prohibited from making any comment that could impact a pending case.
Fox 17 will continue to follow this developing story.
Scott Couch, email@example.com Twitter @scott_couch
Friday, February 1 2013, 03:10 AM CST
Body found in Percy Priest Lake
May 25, 2013 20:14 GMT
SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) -- Authorities say a body has been found in Percy Priest Lake in Middle Tennessee.
WSMV-TV (http://bit.ly/16gYKys) reports officials with Metro Police, the Office of Emergency Management and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency were at the scene Saturday at Hole In The Wall Island. The body was reported to authorities about 11 a.m.
TWRA officials say they believe the deceased man is a boater who disappeared in the lake two weeks ago.
Police said the agencies coordinated with each other to get a boat in the water and recover the body.
Information from: WSMV-TV, http://www.wsmv.com/
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