grand jury

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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
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 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.
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 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.
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 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 ?
For example, if there is a section of the law that is overbroad, and the prosecutor interprets it to cast the widest possible net, can a grand jury interpret the law a bit more narrowly, and vote accordingly?
366) See Brenner, supra note 69, at 73 ("[P]rosecutors learned to further enhance grand jury dependence by developing a rapport with them.
367) Peter Arenella, Reforming the Federal Grand Jury and the State Preliminary Hearing to Prevent Conviction Without Adjudication, 78 MICH.
He said supervisors already receive annual reports on the pension plan and monthly updates, and for years they have been addressing issues raised by the grand jury.
Grand jury rules require that 12 out of 23 jurors agree that there is probable cause that a criminal offense has been committed for the government to proceed to trial.
Traditionally, the grand jury has been accorded wide latitude to inquire into violations of criminal law.
The accusations that the grand jury made were no worse, no more grievous, than Bullock's normal flamboyancy," he said.
The core problem and the core issue with the report is that the grand jury's duty is to indict or not indict, and there's nothing in the code about the grand jury having the authority to follow up with a strong-worded letter to follow," said Rob Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
We still rely on nonverbatim handwritten "minutes" of grand jury sworn testimony taken by one of the jurors.
The lack of accurate record-keeping and verbatim recordings of grand juries means that we risk distrust in our criminal justice system and further erosion of public confidence in the grand jury system right here in Oregon.
Q: How many people were on the grand jury and how were they selected?
A: The grand jury was composed of 12 people ''selected at random from a fair cross-section of the citizens,'' according to Missouri law.