Former Grand Jury Foreman Was Convicted Felon
By Ben Hall
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned the man who served as grand jury foreman from July to September of 2011, was a convicted felon, which violates state law.
Now, the Davidson County district attorney's office is expecting a flood of appeals for more than 900 indictments handed down by the grand jury he oversaw.
Davidson County Judge Monte Watkins appointed Eugene Grayer as grand jury foreman in July of 2011. About 700 of those cases have been resolved, mostly on guilty pleas. About 90 of those cases are still pending.
District Attorney Torry Johnson said at a Thursday news conference that prosecutors have been working to repair the pending cases -- either by getting new indictments or using a criminal information, which bypasses the grand jury.
Johnson said ultimately state appeals courts will have to decide whether the indictments are valid because of Grayer's conviction.
Related Story: Jurors Worried About Hundreds of Indictments
NewsChannel 5 Investigates learned that when Grayer applied for a handgun carry permit in 2010, he was denied, because of his past criminal history. In 1977, Grayer was charged with grand larceny, possession of a firearm without a serial number and theft from an interstate shipment.
He pleaded guilty to attempt to commit a felony -- which is a felony -- and received a five year suspended sentence.
"Looking at these papers that man was definitely convicted of a felony," David Raybin said as he reviewed paperwork from 1977.
Raybin was surprised when we showed him that he prosecuted Grayer back in 1977.
The indictment shows that Grayer was charged with stealing a $20,000 shipment from UPS with large amounts of jewelry, clothing and electronics -- including 53 necklaces, 39 watches, a TV set, leather coats and other items.
"If a person is convicted of a felony, you're legally disqualified from acting as a juror or grand juror, certainly as a grand jury foreman," Raybin said.
Raybin said Tennessee state law is clear: no one convicted of a felony can serve on a grand jury.
He's never heard of this happening before, but suspects the District Attorney's office will have to toss out indictments and start all over.
"In those cases where people were tried, I think it's fatal to the conviction to have a convicted felon as the foreman of the grand jury, and those cases may well have to be tried again," Raybin said.
Raybin said people who pleaded guilty may not be entitled to new trials, but dozens of people who didn't -- may be.
Officials still don't know why no one knew Grayer was a convicted felon.
- Davidson County District Attorney General Statement Regarding Cases Under Convicted Felon and Former Grand Jury Foreman Eugene Grayer