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Note: The comments and questions on this page came from people who visited this website. Please feel free to send your comments and questions to Professor Brenner (brenner@udayton.edu). She will respond privately, and may ask permission to post your message on this page. No one's e-mail will be used without first obtaining their permission, and names and e-mail addresses are removed before a comment is posted. Starting in 2002, the responses posted to the site indicate which of us replied: The initials SWB mean Professor Brenner wrote the response; the initials LES mean Professor Shaw wrote the response. We are also putting the year down, to indicate when the response was posted. If no initials appear, Professor Brenner wrote the response.

 

States using grand juries:

I recently read an article in one of our local papers . . . concerning the appointment of a Grand Jury in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. In this article your web site was mentioned as a "Clearing House" for Grand Jury Information.

I am presently serving on . . . [a California] . . . Grand Jury . . . and was very interested in your site. As with most people I did not realize what a Grand Jury was used for until I volunteered to serve. I am very interested in educating the general public as to the Grand Jury's functions. I believe that the Grand Jury is one of the few means through which citizens have a voice in the function of local government and is an invaluable tool for prosecutors in bringing criminals to trial.

Your site contains a lot of interesting information on both Federal and State Grand Juries. I have one comment on how the selection process works, at least in . . . [California]. 30 people are chosen, by local Judges, from volunteers throughout the county. These names are then put into a bin. The first 19 names drawn are the Grand Jury for that term (1 Year). The other 11 are alternates and are summoned if a Grand Juror is unable to finish his/her term.

Thank You for going to the trouble of maintaining this site. I will recommend to my fellow Grand Jurors and anyone else interested that they pay your site a visit.

One more thing. We were told by one of our Counsels that 39 states had abolished the Grand Jury system. According to your information this is not correct. Is it possible that some states don't use Grand Juries to investigate local government, as we do? Could you give me a run-down of states that use Grand Juries for both criminal and civil purposes?

Thank You.

Response:  Only two states don't use grand juries at all.  Most states do not require that grand juries be used to bring criminal charges in all cases.  If you check the state grand jury section of the web site, you'll find information about which states require the use of grand juries and which do not.   Many states do not use grand juries to investigate local government as extensively as California does; in fact, I think it's unique in that respect.  In many states, grand juries still carry out the old common law duty of investigating the local jail.   In some states, they also look into a few other areas of county or municipal government, but their role is much, much less important than it is in California.  If you want a break down of which states use grand juries to investigate crimes and which use them to investigate civil affairs, check the state grand juries section of the web site.   That information is there.

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