A Tennessee court must decide whether as many as 800 criminal cases must be re-examined because a judge named a felon to lead a grand jury even through the prosecutor’s office knew about his record, The Tennessean reports. The grand jury foreman, Eugene Grayer, had a 1977 theft conviction and should not have been ineligible for jury duty. But he never underwent a criminal background check.
Grayer led the grand jury for 900 indictments, 800 of which were resolved, most ending in guilty pleas. An additional 90 cases are pending. The Court of Criminal Appeals will soon decide whether prosecutors must send some or all of those 800 back for retrial, as Grayer's involvement could jeopardize the outcomes. The district attorney vets jurors for criminal trials and grand juries. The jury foreman is appointed by a judge and not subject to background checks by the DA's office. District Attorney Torry Johnson said “This shouldn't have happened. We have to make the best out of a bad situation.”