Reforming the Federal Grand Jury and the State Preliminary Hearing to Prevent Conviction Without Adjudication

It is this Article’s thesis that the substitution of plea-bargaining for the criminal trial as our primary method for determining legal guilt requires a fundamental reassessment of our pretrial screening processes. In a system where the prosecutor’s decision to file charges is usually followed by a negotiated guilty plea, we can no longer pretend that the pretrial process does not adjudicate the defendant’s guilt. Accordingly, this Article argues that it no longer makes sense to rely primarily on the trial to safeguard essential accusatorial principles when pretrial screening devices like the preliminary hearing and the grand jury perform the only independent adjudication of the defendant’s guilt before conviction in most cases.