grand jury

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Wikipedia.
Related to grand jury: petit jury

grand jury,

in law, body of persons selected to inquire into crimes committed within a certain jurisdiction. It usually comprises a greater number than the trial, or petit (also, petty) jury, having since early common lawcommon law,
system of law that prevails in England and in countries colonized by England. The name is derived from the medieval theory that the law administered by the king's courts represented the common custom of the realm, as opposed to the custom of local jurisdiction that
..... Click the link for more information.
 days had between 12 and 23 members. In the United States, federal grand juries have between 16 and 23 jurors. The grand jury receives complaints and accusations in criminal cases, hears evidence adduced by the state, and approves an indictmentindictment
, in criminal law, formal written accusation naming specific persons and crimes. Persons suspected of crime may be rendered liable to trial by indictment, by presentment, or by information.
..... Click the link for more information.
 when satisfied that there is enough evidence against the accused to warrant a trial. It was not until the 17th cent. that the grand jury acquired its modern functions as a check on the discretion of prosecutors and a way of preventing unjustified and politically motivated prosecutions. Grand juries have investigative functions as well, and are sometimes impaneled to issue reports on, e.g., suspected official wrongdoing.

The rules governing grand jury proceedings are very different from those governing trials by (petit) jury. The public is not admitted to hearings, and witnesses can be compelled to testify. The procedure is inquisitorial rather than adversarial: the defense is not allowed to call witnesses, and the prosecutor is not obliged to present both sides of the case. Hearsay and other evidenceevidence,
in law, material submitted to a judge or a judicial body to resolve disputed questions of fact. The rules discussed in this article were developed in England for use in jury trials.
..... Click the link for more information.
 that might be excluded at a jury trial may be introduced.

The use of grand juries has declined in the 20th cent., in part because they were perceived as prone to either prosecutorial domination or abuse of their investigatory role. Britain abandoned them in the 1930s, and today fewer than half of U.S. states employ them. The information, a written statement issued by a prosecutor, has largely replaced the indictment. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, however, guarantees a grand jury inquiry to anyone accused in federal court of a capital "or otherwise infamous" (i.e., a felony) crime.

grand jury

Law (esp in the US and, now rarely, in Canada) a jury of between 12 and 23 persons summoned to inquire into accusations of crime and ascertain whether the evidence is adequate to found an indictment. Abolished in Britain in 1948
References in periodicals archive ?
In the courts presence she then screamed repeatedly, including various vulgarities, causing the grand jury selection process to stop while she was escorted out of the courts presence," Brennan wrote in his order.
McCulloch conducted the Brown-Wilson grand jury investigation in compliance with Missouri law, violated no ethical rule, and, at least with respect to his office's relations with the grand jury, proceeded in an entirely professional and sensible manner.
Louis County, or his media strategy during the Brown-Wilson investigation, including questions about the timing of the announcement of the grand jury decision.
Hall met the grand jury news by blasting the legislators he blames for his troubles, saying their effort "to criminalize my service as a regent constitutes abuse of office.
The grand jury took no action on this complaint," the jurors wrote.
Drawing from his experience as a former prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, appellate court judge and grand juror, Cohen lays out several proposed changes that he says are both legal and could be implemented quickly: Stop using grand jury commissioners to select grand jurors.
We've heard over and over that during grand jury proceedings only prosecutors - not the judge or the accused - are present in the room, introduce the evidence, and select and examine witnesses.
But here's something that many Ore gonians may not know: We are one of only three states in the nation that still rely on handwritten notes created by a grand juror instead of a verbatim recording of the grand jury proceedings.
A: The grand jury considered whether there is enough evidence to charge Wilson with a crime and, if so, what that charge should be.
The previous installment of "The company's guide to responding effectively to a federal grand jury subpoena" outlined the basic steps a company must take to effectively respond to a subpoena duces tecum (a subpoena for documents).
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, protecting the secrecy of federal grand jury proceedings, permit limited disclosure of grand jury materials.
Upon completing its investigation, the grand jury assumes an accusatory role to judge the weight of the evidence brought before it and determine whether to issue an indictment.