At the federal level, prosecutors do not take the step of empaneling a grand jury unless they are confident they are going to get an indictment against a suspect.
“As a practical matter, a federal grand jury will almost always return an indictment presented to it by a prosecutor,” Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney Solomon L. Wisenberg noted. “This is the basis for Judge Saul (sic) Wachler’s famous saying that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to ‘indict a ham sandwich.'”
Ah yes … Bonfire of the Vanities.
That was a little before our time (and before S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s time) – and last time we checked it was Sol Wachtler (not Saul Wachler) – but the ham sandwich metaphor is apt, and about to take on new meaning in the state of South Carolina.
Specifically Wilson – who this week referred a corruption case involving S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell to a statewide grand jury – will see his political future decided over the course of the coming two months.
Either he will emerge as a conquering crusader in the fight against South Carolina’s corrupt status quo – taking down the most powerful elected official in the Palmetto State for a host of serious abuses – or he will be forever remembered as the guy who couldn’t indict a ham sandwich.
The first outcome could very well lead Wilson to the governor’s office in 2018. The second path? It could lead him to the unemployment line.
This website was critical of Wilson during his 2010 campaign, but since taking office three years ago he’s been a pleasant surprise … so far. Wilson has cultivated the public persona of a Boy Scout – a prosecutor who doesn’t play favorites and decides cases based on the merits, not on the politics.
He’s also made targeting public corruption his top priority.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Attorney General … but it’s put up or shut up time.
Your ham sandwich destiny awaits …