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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.

 

Grand jury origins:

Can you tell me where and when the grand jury system originated?

Response: It originated in England in 1166. The English had used a 12 person jury to bring charges and then trial was by combat or ordeal (holding red hot iron, being thrown into water to see if you floated, etc.). The Catholic Church outlawed the ordeal and the Normans who had conquered England and were now making the law had to come up with a new method of trial. They made the 12 person jury (the petit jury) the trial jury and created a new 23 person "grand" jury to investigate and bring charges.

Was the "attorney-less" witness feature (witness cannot be accompanied by a lawyer in the grand jury room) a feature of English jurisprudence?

Response: Always . . . until very late in English law, someone charged with a felony was not even entitled to have an attorney at trial (or to be advised of the charges against them). Consequently, it was inconceivable that a grand jury witness would have a lawyer.

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