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In the common law, a grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether there is
enough evidence for a trial. Grand juries carry out this duty by examining evidence and
issuing indictments, or by investigating alleged crimes and issuing presentments. A grand
jury is traditionally larger than and distinguishable from a petit jury, which is used during
The first instance of a grand jury can be traced back to the Assize of Clarendon, an 1166
act of Henry II of England. In fact, Henry's chief effect on the development of the
English monarchy was to increase the jurisdiction of the royal courts at the expense of the
feudal courts. Itinerant justices on regular circuits were sent out once each year to enforce
the "King's Peace." To make this system of royal criminal justice more effective, Henry
employed the method of inquest used by William the Conqueror in the Domesday Book.
In each shire a body of important men was sworn (jure) to report to the sheriff all crimes
committed since the last session of the circuit court. Thus originated the modern grand
jury that presents information for an indictment. The grand jury was later recognized by
King John in Magna Carta in 1215 on demand of the nobility.
In the early decades of the United States grand juries played a major role in public
matters. During that period counties followed the traditional practice of requiring all
decisions be made by at least twelve of the grand jurors, (e.g., for a twenty-three-person
grand jury, twelve people would constitute a bare majority). Any citizen could bring a
matter before a grand jury directly, from a public work that needed repair, to the
delinquent conduct of a public official, to a complaint of a crime, and grand juries could
conduct their own investigations. In that era most criminal prosecutions were conducted
by private parties, either a law enforcement officer, a lawyer hired by a crime victim or
his family, or even by laymen, who could bring a bill of indictment to the grand jury; if
the grand jury found there was sufficient evidence for a trial, that the act was a crime
under law, and that the court had jurisdiction, then by returning the indictment to the
complainant, it appointed him to exercise the authority of an attorney general, that is, one
having a general power of attorney to represent the state in the case. The grand jury
served to screen out incompetent or malicious prosecutions. The advent of official
public prosecutors in the later decades of the 19th century largely displaced private
Charges involving "capital or infamous crimes" under federal jurisdiction must be
presented to a grand jury under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
This has been interpreted to allow the grand jury to be bypassed for misdemeanor
offenses, which can instead be charged by prosecutor's information. Some plea
agreements also stipulate that the defendant waives prosecution by indictment. However,
the defendant must make this waiver in open court and after being advised of the nature
of the charge and of the defendant's rights. The U.S. Attorneys Manual states that
prosecutors "must recognize that the grand jury is an independent body, whose functions
include not only the investigation of crime and the initiation of criminal prosecution but
also the protection of the citizenry from unfounded criminal charges." It is not
altogether uncommon for subjects or targets of the grand jury's investigation, particularly
in white-collar cases, to request or demand the opportunity to tell the grand jury their side
of the story. However, the prosecutor has no legal obligation to permit such witnesses to
testify, though the Manual warns that a refusal to do so can create the appearance of
unfairness. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prescribe that a grand jury must
have from sixteen to twenty-three members and that an indictment may issue only if at
least 12 jurors concur.
For members of the United States armed forces, an Article 32 hearing is used for a
Unlike many other provisions of the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that this
requirement was not incorporated to apply to state courts via the Fourteenth Amendment,
and states therefore may elect not to use grand juries.
In the U.S., the states of Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New
York, Nevada, North Carolina, and Oregon have grand juries at the county level.
In California, each county is required by the state constitution to have at least one grand
jury impaneled at all times. Grand juries are governed by Title 4 of the California Penal
Code, as well as other more general provisions. In addition, grand juries are not subject to
the Brown Act.
Most grand juries are seated on a fiscal cycle, i.e. July through June. Most counties have
panels consisting of nineteen jurors, some have as few as eleven jurors, others have as
many as twenty-three (see California Penal Code Section 888.2). Jurors are usually
selected on a volunteer basis.
These county-level grand juries primarily focus on oversight of government institutions
at the county level or lower. Almost any entity that receives public money can be
examined by the grand jury, including county government, cities, and special districts.
Each panel selects the topics that it wishes to examine each year. A jury is not allowed to
continue an oversight from a previous panel. If a jury wishes to look at a subject that a
prior jury was examining, it must start its own investigation and independently verify all
information. It may use information obtained from the prior jury but this information
must be verified before it can be used by the current jury. Upon completing its
investigation, the jury may, but is not required to, issue a report detailing its findings and
The grand jury is required to publish a minimum of one report containing a minimum of
one finding and one recommendation. The published reports are the only public record of
the grand jury's work; there is no minority report. Each published report includes a list of
those public entities that are required or requested to respond. The format of these
responses is dictated by California Penal Code Section 933.05, as is the time span in
which they must respond.
County grand juries develop areas to examine by two avenues: juror interests, and public
complaints. Complaints filed by the public are kept confidential. The protection of
whistleblowers is one of the primary reasons for the confidential nature of the grand
Most county grand juries in California do not consider criminal matters, though by law
they are able to. The decision of whether or not to present criminal cases to the grand jury
is made by the county District Attorney.
Hennepin County, Minnesota (which contains Minneapolis) keeps a grand jury
impaneled at all times. Each grand jury serves a term of four months, typically meets one
day each week, and focuses almost exclusively on homicide cases.
Circuit grand juries in Kentucky
In Kentucky, grand jurors are empaneled in each county, at the Circuit level (felonies
only) for a four-month term (three panels per year). During the trial jury orientation for
the given four-month term, the grand jurors are selected from the trial jury pool, although
the method of selection is not necessarily random. The meetings are twice a month
(however, grand juries in more populous counties generally meet more often), with each
meeting usually going through 20-30 cases in a four to five hour period. The indictment
rate is about 98-99%; the grand jury can broaden (about 1% of the time) or narrow (about
3% of the time) the counts in the indictment as well. Usually, fifteen or so[clarification needed]
grand jurors are required to report to meetings; the hope is that twelve will show to each
meeting, which is the number of jurors required to hear cases (extra jurors can leave). It
takes nine yes votes to the question of probable cause to sign a true bill of indictment.
Fewer than nine yes votes either causes a no true bill or a narrowing of the indictment
(depending on the votes per count).
The rules are very similar to the federal process; the grand jury only hears from law
enforcement personnel, with the exception of property crimes, where store detectives or
actual victims of theft or vandalism are called to testify. The only cases brought to the
grand jury are those initiated from the Commonwealth's Attorney's office (the prosecutor
for felonies). For the vast majority of cases, the grand jurors generally only hear a
recitation of facts from the police report, crime laboratory reports, and other
documentation generated during the evidence gathering process. Grand jurors can ask
factual questions of the witnesses and legal questions of the prosecutors. The ability to
broaden or narrow indictments does technically allow for grand juries to open new
avenues of investigation, although since it is dependent on prosecutors for facts, this
seems very rarely done, if ever. Rules of confidentiality apply to grand jurors, which are
similar to the federal rules.
Therefore it is my opinion to have Common Law Grand Juries not only for Criminal
matters, but for matters addressing breach of conduct of a public official, which
technically is an Injury to the Public and Breach of Oath. As victimless crimes will not
be addressed at all. A man/woman must commit a Tresspass and/or Injury to be accused
of a Lesser (Miisdemeanor), or Greater (Felony) crime. We must have a National
Common law Grand Jury, a Republic (state) Common law Grand Jury and a County
Assembly Grand Jury, as this eliminates the Public Prosecutors Information, and Plea
Bargins to waive Indictment. All petit juries can be appointed by the Just Court for
infractions of some minor Civil matter, if the Republic wishes to go that way..
I set this up so that not one of the People can be arrested for a victomless crime, there
must be an Injury and/or Tresspass. You would not need a jury trial for a parking
violation, jaywalking etc, if those rules are even allowed to exist in this Republic, as they
are not Just laws, except parking in front of a Fire-house or Fire-hydrant. .