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Print This Page | Close Window Frequently Asked Questions About the Grand Jury System What is the purpose of the grand jury? The primary function of the modern grand jury is to review the evidence presented by the prosecutor and determine whether there is probable cause to return an indictment. The original purpose of the grand jury was to act as a buffer between the king (and his prosecutors) and the citizens. Critics argue that this safeguarding role has been erased, and the grand jury simply acts as a rubber stamp for the prosecutor. Since the role of the grand jury is only to determine probable cause, there is no need for the jury to hear all the evidence, or even conflicting evidence. It is left to the good faith of the prosecutor to present conflicting evidence. In the federal system, the courts have ruled that the grand jury has extraordinary investigative powers that have been developed over the years since the 1950s. This wide, sweeping, almost unrestricted power is the cause of much of the criticism. The power is virtually in complete control of the prosecutor, and is pretty much left to his or her good faith. Does every jurisdiction use a grand jury? The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires a grand jury indictment for federal criminal charges. Only about half the states now use grand juries. What is the typical term of a grand jury? In virtually every federal jurisdiction, there is at least one grand jury sitting every day. Generally, most federal indictments involve grand juries that sit for five days a week for a period of one month. For cases involving complex and long-term investigations (such as those involving organized crime, drug conspiracies or political corruption), "long term" grand juries will be impaneled. Such "long term" grand juries typically sit fewer days each week, and their terms can be extended in six month increments for up to three years. The schedules vary among the states that still have grand juries. How are grand jurors selected? In most jurisdictions, grand jurors are drawn from the same pool of potential jurors as are any other jury panels, and in the same manner. The pool generally Page 1 of 5 Print View of http://www.abanet.org/media/faqjury.html at 03/31/2008 10:29 AM 3/31/2008 http://www.abanet.org/abanet/common/print/newprintview.cfm?ref=http://www.abanet.org. ..
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consists of names culled from various databases, such as national voter lists, motor vehicle license lists and public utilities lists. Does anyone screen grand jurors for biases or other improper factors? No. Unlike potential jurors in regular trials, grand jurors are not screened for
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course POLY SCI 179 taught by Professor Ormes during the Spring '08 term at UC Irvine.

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ABA+overview - Print View of...

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