HEPPNER, Oregon – Beginning July 1, all grand jury proceedings in the state must be recorded. The Oregon Legislature put the responsibility for that, along with the cost of implementing it, on the shoulders of the state’s district attorney’s offices. Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson said he could never figure out what possible problem could have spurred the bill that became law in the last session.
“It appeared the legislature decided, ‘He, let’s just spend money on something we don’t need to,’” he said. And also, not just ‘let’s spend money we don’t need to, but let’s require the counties to take care of some more unfunded mandates.’”
Nelson thinks that the law is an unnecessary burden, and he also believes that since it passed it should be the duty of the courts, not the district attorneys, to do the recording.
“All of our normal court hearings are recorded through the courts, and the courts are the ones that provide copies of those hearings,” he said. “The grand jury is still a function o the court, but we’re the ones now required to record it.”
In addition to the expensive recording equipment that was recently delivered, the district attorney’s offices also have to provide the training to utilize it as well as the storage space necessary to protect the recordings.