Who are Grand Jurors?
Twelve randomly selected voters, 18 years of age or older, who are United States citizens residing in Lucas County are summoned to serve 2 weeks (maximum 10 days). Nine of the Grand Jurors are considered voting members and represent a quorum. The remaining grand jurors serve as alternates. One of the voting members will be appointed as the grand jury foreperson.
What are the responsibilities of the Grand Jury Foreperson?
The foreperson administers oaths or affirmations to witnesses regarding truthful testimony, polls the voting members, announces the results to the prosecutor and signs the indictments.
What is the difference between grand jury and a petit jury?
A grand jury decides the appropriate charges an accused should face. The standard of proof to return an indictment is based on probable cause. Once an indictment is returned, it is sent on to the trial court for disposition. At trial a "petit jury" or trial jury may be selected to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused. The standard of proof for a petit jury is based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
What happens during the Grand Jury proceedings?
The assistant prosecutor presents witness testimony and evidence to a grand jury. The suspects are typically not present, unless they voluntarily request to testify. Nevertheless, even if the accused offers to testify, only the prosecutor can select which witnesses may appear before the grand jury. An attorney representing the accused is not allowed into the grand jury even if the accused testifies. Judges are not allowed into the grand jury and are only needed if a witness fails to appear. A judges role is limited to contempt issues and plays no role in the actual grand jury proceedings.
The Prosecutor and Grand Jurors are able to ask the witnesses questions during their testimony, but there is no other persons present in a grand jury except the assistant prosecutor, the witness and the 12 grand jurors. The prosecutor instructs the Grand Jurors on issues of law, admissibility and weight of evidence and proper procedure.
Are Grand Jury proceedings public?
Grand Jury proceedings are not public. Grand Jury proceedings are transcribed by audio recorder and remain secret unless the court orders a transcription. This order may be obtained by an accused only if he is able to show a "particularized need". Even if a transcript is produced, the inspection of it is done "in camera," that is, by the parties in interest and the court. The use of the testimony is limited to that specific "need." For example, prior testimony made under oath in a grand jury hearing can be used to impeach a witness at trial. Nevertheless, these "in camera" inspections are very uncommon, and the testimony is rarely made public.
What is the End Result of a Grand Jury Proceeding?
Upon conclusion of the testimony and evidence the 9 voting grand jurors (no other persons shall be in attendance) will be asked to deliberate and decide whether they find probable cause to believe that both a crime has been committed and the accused person is responsible. If at least 7 of the 9 voting members find probable cause a true bill indictment is issued charging the accused with the crime. Otherwise, a "no bill" is issued and the accused is not charged with the crime. A "no bill" does not prohibit the prosecutor from presenting the charges to a Grand Jury at a later date. If "no bill" charges are re-presented to a subsequent grand jury, generally it is due to the emergence of additional evidence that was not previously available and increases the chances for a true bill.
Indictments become public when they are filed with the Clerk of Court. After the filing of an indictment, a criminal case number and Judge will be assigned. The accused is labeled as the defendant on the criminal case. A warrant or summons is issued for the defendant's first court appearance before a Judge.