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Nashville DA says grand jury foreman was felon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville's top prosecutor said Thursday he is expecting a flood of appeals of criminal cases after it was discovered that a grand jury foreman was a felon and ineligible for jury service under state law.

The Tennessee grand jury led by Eugene Grayer returned 919 indictments during its three-month term between July and September of 2011.

About 800 of those cases had been resolved, mostly with guilty pleas, Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson said at a news conference Thursday. About 90 cases still are pending.

Since the discovery two weeks ago of Grayer's 35-year-old conviction arising from a theft scheme, prosecutors have been working to repair the pending cases -- either by getting new indictments from the current grand jury or issuing a criminal information, which bypasses the grand jury process but requires the consent of the defendant.

Of the 800-or-so other cases, Johnson said, "The worst-case scenario would be that all the cases and defendants are sent back to court and their cases are redone. <t40>...<t$>In the best-case scenario, that would only happen in cases where the defendant could show he was somehow prejudiced by the fact that Mr. Grayer was on the grand jury, something I think would be exceedingly difficult."

Johnson said ultimately state appeals courts will have to decide whether the indictments are valid because of Grayer's conviction.

A call to the phone number listed on Grayer's handgun carry permit application rang unanswered, as did a call to a number listed for him in a phone directory.

Criminal defense attorney David Raybin said he has several clients who were indicted by the grand jury on which Grayer served, but he does not expect to appeal any of those cases.

That's because those clients pleaded guilty, waiving their rights to challenge any defects in the grand jury when they pleaded.

"However, those cases where there was a jury trial will probably have to be retried," the attorney said.

Raybin said his reading of the case law is that having a felon on a grand jury, particularly as the foreman, makes the indictments questionable in cases where the defendant pleaded not guilty.


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