Here is an interesting story about what can happen when citizens are allowed to empanel grand juries-a role traditionally reserved to the prosecutor. At least six states permit its citizens, if they gather enough signatures, to empanel a grand jury. While this may sound like a good idea in theory, e.g., to fight government corruption, it has the potential to become a political tool.
In one example, a group was able to get enough signatures (2% of the registered voters in the county) to investigate a bronze sculpture in the Overland Park Arboretum. According to those who convened the grand jury, the sculpture is obscene. While some may see this is as direct democracy in action, others like the author of the article view it as "legalized mob justice." To date, Overland Park officials have had to expend significant resources to defend the sculpture from criminal charges.
To learn more about the story go here.
To see the sculpture or learn about the group investigating it go here.