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State Senate passes grand jury measure for Trutanich

June 1, 2010 |  3:29 pm

http://www.ktla.com/media/photo/2009-05/47022822.jpgState lawmakers moved Tuesday to vastly expand the powers of the Los Angeles city attorney by supporting a measure that would give him his own grand jury.

City Atty. Carmen Trutanich asked that Los Angeles be the first California city given the power to empanel a grand jury for significant misdemeanor cases. Legislation approved by the state Senate on Tuesday would do so, providing the panel with authority to subpoena documents and compel testimony before criminal charges are filed.

"This is a tool that, when used properly, will get to the bottom of a real criminal act," Trutanich said. "I know from a public safety standpoint the citizens of Los Angeles will be much better off for it."

The measure, SB 1168, was approved 23 to 9 and sent to the state Assembly.

Opponents questioned the need for another grand jury in a county where the district attorney already has power to empanel two criminal grand juries for felony cases.

Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) asked whether misdemeanors "rise to the necessity of a grand jury."

Trutanich said in an earlier interview that the power would have come in handy when his office filed civil fines against hospitals for dumping indigent patients on skid row in Los Angeles. Nobody was charged criminally for those actions.

"Sometimes you want to pull your hair out," he said. "Wouldn’t it be nice if, before you filed a criminal case against a hospital, you were able to get your hands on the e-mails so you could see whether or not there was an administrator involved in putting this patient directly at risk?"

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: KTLA News