By Melanie Mason
May 7, 2015

The state Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would prohibit grand juries from weighing in on cases of deadly shootings or excessive force by police.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) said her bill aims to “increase confidence of Californians in the judicial process,” adding the current process is “a non-transparent process that is really antiquated and it calls into question whether the grand jury system is relevant anymore.”

The system been under increased scrutiny in recent months after grand juries declined to pursue charges in high-profile police killings in Staten Island, N.Y. and Ferguson, Mo. In March, a federal investigation into the Ferguson shooting largely agreed with the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the slaying of Michael Brown.

Mitchell, in an interview, cited several concerns about grand juries, including “their lack of transparency, the lack of opposing counsel, [and] no judge present.”

Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties do not use grand juries when an officer’s actions may be the cause of a person’s death.

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