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Grand jurors who leak should be punished

MINGO County Sheriff Eugene Crum and prosecutors went after the county's drug problems.  One of their frustrations was that grand jurors would tip off people who were indicted.

Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, an assistant prosecutor, said the leaks caused drug dealers to flee. One went to Detroit, one to Columbus and one to Kentucky.

State law allows a judge to hold a juror in jail for 10 days for contempt, but nothing more. The House voted 98-0 to allow judges to jail leakers for 30 days and impose $1,000 fines on grand jurors who tip people off.

Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, stalled the bill in the Senate, saying tougher sanctions could be used against  grand jurors who discussed things with a spouse.

That does not seem to be a problem in the 48 states that already impose criminal sanctions on grand jurors who leak. On a rare second vote, the Senate passed the bill, and sent it to the governor for signing.

A gunman killed Crum in cold blood in broad daylight on April 3. There is no known connection to the drug trade, but the law will help people fighting the same war that Crum undertook. That's as it should be.


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