New York Grand Jury Standards of Proof and Evidence
This guide will assist the reader in a introductory understanding of grand jury standards and evidence in New York State.
Standards of Proof:An explanation of the standards of proof for a grand jury can be found in Article 70 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law. Section 70.10 states that, "Legally sufficient evidence" means "competent evidence which, if accepted as true, would establish every element of an offense charged and the defendant's commission thereof..."
Inspection for Sufficiency:A thorough attorney will ensure that the grand jury minutes are property inspected by the court, pursuant to CPL 210.30(3), for the purpose of determining sufficiency. It is crucial that this is done before plea or conviction because a defendant can no longer raise the legal sufficiency of the grand jury presentation once this phase is completed. Because the grand jury presentation is a secret event it may take some time before the minutes are turned over to the defendant for inspection. CPL 240.44(1) and 240.45(1)(a) dictate the testimony of any grand jury witness must be turned over as Rosario material.
The Rosario Rule:The Rosario rule comes for the New York State Court of Appeals decision in People v. Rosario argued in January of 1961. Justice Fuld opined that, "A pretrial statement of a witness for the prosecution is valuable not just as a source of contradictions with which to confront him and discredit his trial testimony. Even statements seemingly in harmony with such testimony may contain matter which will prove helpful on cross-examination. They may reflect a witness' bias, for instance, or otherwise supply the defendant with knowledge essential to the neutralization of the damaging testimony of the witness which might, perhaps, turn the scales in his favor." The Rosario rule is codified in the New York Criminal Procedure Law and requires the prosecution to give to the defense any prior written or recorded statements of a witness who testifies for the prosecution.