Grand Jury Finds Probable Cause In Drug Sting Case [AUDIO]
Dozens of people went through District Court Monday in Casper to answer to charges related to a methamphetamine distribution ring. The people in District Court related to the drug sting were there under grand jury indictments.
Citizens issue indictments:
"There's two ways of doing probable cause, and we always have to have probable cause to take someone to trial on a felony. One is a preliminary hearing, which we do that here in Wyoming most of the time, but most states and the federal government use a grand jury. And the purpose of this jury is to determine if probable cause for the charge exist. It's not at all to determine guilt or innocence; it's only to determine if adequate evidence exists to proceed with a trial."
Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen explained that only a judge can empanel a grand jury of 12 people, with alternates, and nine of the 12 have to vote for the indictment. Potential jurors are from the same roster as any jury.
Mr. Blonigen said he's been with the prosecutor's office since 1985 and these are his first grand jury arraignments.
Most states use grand jury system:
"So we certainly had to do some research into it, make sure everything is squared away when we did it, but it's a pretty common system throughout the country. In fact, I think more states use grand jury than use the preliminary hearing system still."
Mr. Blonigen said there are outstanding indictments in the meth distribution case, so more arrests could be forthcoming.
"I think the number is 35 or 36. We have made arrests here; we've also made arrests out of state and out of county. There remains warrants to be served and our investigation is still ongoing. There could be more charged, as well."