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G is for Grand Jury

G is For ~ Grand Jury

A Grand Jury will Indict a Ham Sandwich.

A Grand Jury is different from a Petit Jury or what most people think of when they think of a jury. A grand jury is not the jury of peers that listens to evidence to determine whether a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A Grand Jury is a secretive process. 


        A grand jury is a group of people that are selected and sworn in by a court, just like jurors that are chosen to serve on a trial jury.

Depending on the state, a particular grand jury may sit for a month, six months, or even a year.

Unlike trial jurors, though, grand jurors don't convene every day.

Unlike trial juries, grand juries don't decide if someone is guilty of criminal charges that have been brought against them. Grand juries listen to evidence and decide if someone SHOULD be charged with a crime.

Normally, defense attorneys fail when they try to claim that a grand jury is biased.  Courts reject these claims on the theory that all the grand jury does is bring charges, so even if a grand jury is biased, the government must still prove at trial, beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged is guilty.

If the grand jury agrees that there is sufficient reason to charge the suspect with a crime, it returns an indictment carrying the words true bill. If there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the grand jury, it returns an indictment carrying the words no true bill.

In reviewing evidence of criminal wrongdoing, a grand jury is supposed to act as a shield against ill-conceived or malicious prosecutions. Yet critics charge that grand juries typically rubber-stamp the prosecution's moves, indicting anyone the prosecutor cares to bring before it


In reality, or in most cases (I should say), the grand jury does exactly what the prosecutor ask them to do. This proceeding is definitely one sided and the prosecutor has the advantage. The defense is not allowed to present any evidence, but the target (the would be defendant) is permitted to testify. Most defense attorney's counsel against this-why give the government a chance to lock the accused into a particular statement of facts? If the accused chooses to testify, the defense counsel is allowed to be in the room, but the attorney is not permitted to speak.


 Whatever occurs in the grand jury room remains a secret and witnesses who violate the secrecy of the grand jury proceeding can and are often prosecuted.  Because it is so one sided, there is a very old saying,  " A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the district attorney ask them to." 


 Have you ever heard this saying? Have you or anyone you know ever served on a grand jury?  Do you think grand jury proceedings are fair? 

Here is a link to the A to Z list of participants.     How many have you visited?  I have not read as many as I hoped to, but intend to have much more time after Easter so I will be visiting all of you who have visited me and I hope to get to two hundred more next week. That's my goal anyway.

Happy Easter & Happy Passover to all.




Melissa Sugar said...

Your A-Z topic is so fascinating. Even though I am not in the hop this year, I am loving reading your posts and learning so much! 

Melissa Sugar said...

Interesting - the only thing I knew about grand juries was from books and movies. (Probably not the most accurate, huh?)

Melissa Sugar said...

You are so informative! Happy Holiday to you!~
It was fascinating to read; I'm so happy I have never been on one...yikes

Melissa Sugar said...

Thank you for visiting .

Melissa Sugar said...

You had me at ham sandwich.

Melissa Sugar said...

We have a similar preliminary hearing process in Canada. Here, it is easy to indict — the crown does get preference. But the question is still whether there is enough evidence to go to trial convict. 

I remember a prelim in a hugely interesting case here in Canada. Massive media attention. The judge threw out the charges — the prosecution was totally inept.  That began a lot of question asking — and a Royal commission. nobody has ten convicted of the murders, and there is scientific question about whether there were any murders, or whether the children died of natural causes. 

Melissa Sugar said...

I learned a few things today. Thanks for the very informative post! I have not heard this saying, but I do use the term "ham sandwich" in my first book, but fo other reasons.

Melissa Sugar said...

I'd heard of a Grand Jury but didn't know exactly what they did. I have to say, I can't see the point of them, but then I'm English so I don't have a right to comment really!

Melissa Sugar said...

Never knew much about Juries--this was a revelation...:)
---Damyanti, Co-host
A to Z Challenge April 2012



Twitter: @AprilA2Z


Melissa Sugar said...

Oh yes. I am familiar with the process. We have similar backgrounds, except I decided a long time ago to stick to midnight writing. I am your newest follower.

Melissa Sugar said...

I'd never heard of that saying.  I've heard of a grand jury but never really knew what they did.

Melissa Sugar said...

Absolutely with the ham sandwich. When I was a practitioner and on the side of the prosecutors, we enjoyed using the GJ route.

Well done Melissa.

Melissa Sugar said...

You left a comment on Angela's blog about the Save The Cat workbook. I was curious what workbook you were talking about. What is it's title? Thanks! :)

Melissa Sugar said...

Interesting post! But now I am concerned for all the ham sandwiches that may not get due process!

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