Why Is the Manziel Case Being Referred to the Grand Jury?

The Dallas Police Department has referred the Johnny Manziel assault case investigation to the Dallas County Grand Jury. This is an interesting development because the police rarely refer misdemeanor cases to the grand jury. The usual practice is to make an arrest and file the case directly with the District Attorney’s Office. Felonies must go through the Grand Jury before they can move forward but not misdemeanor charges. However the law does allow misdemeanor charges to be brought before a grand jury and this case seems ideal for that.

Why did the police choose to handle the case this way? Clearly they know there are problems with this case. The investigation appears to have been very intense. They have interviewed witnesses and retrieved video. If they believed that they had a strong case of assault against Manziel they would have already arrested him and directly filed a case. In all probability the witnesses interviewed did not collaborate the accuser’s story. The video the police retrieved from the hotel may contradicted Ms. Crowley’s story.

When the police file a case by grand jury referral, it is usually a message to the prosecutors that there are major problems with the case. They are not putting their stamp of approval on it.  Referring a case to the grand jury is an excellent way to get rid of a bad case. In this case if the police refused to file the case they would come under heavy criticism. If the police directly filed the case with District Attorney’s Office and the DA rejected the case, then the DA’s Office would come under fire. However, if you run a weak case through the Grand Jury, everyone is covered. If the Grand Jury No Bills the case, then no one can really complain: The decision was made by the Grand Jury not the police or the District Attorney.

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