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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.

Doesn’t the judge influence how the grand jury behaves?

Isn't the judge who oversees the grand jury key? I'd guess the way he instructs them on their powers at the outset will have a big impact on how active they are.

Response: It might . . . but I think the judge's instructions (given briefly in their first real, official encounter as grand jurors) are easily forgotten and overridden by the experiences they have once they get into the grand jury room. If they get a handbook for grand jurors, the language in it may tell them they have some independence, but what happens if a prosecutor doesn't honor that independence. . .does not, for example, immediately acquiesce in a grand juror's desire to call a witness or even question a witness? I've had grand jurors email me telling me that prosecutors would not let them question witnesses--in most jurisdictions, that is not the prosecutor's call . . . but if the grand juror does not take the matter to the supervising judge (which is my suggestion), what  happens? The other grand jurors are likely to be intimidated by the prosecutor and not support the one causing trouble, so that person is likely to give in.

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