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Multimedia Overview: A State Grand Jury at Work
- Page 5 of 9

Here, you see what the grand jurors see. Below in the first picture is a police officer who is testifying before the grand jury; you can see him from a slightly different vantage point in the picture at the bottom. He is sitting in the grand jury room’s witness box. Many grand jury rooms do not have a formal witness box; in those rooms, the witness may simply sit in a chair, which may be on a raised platform at the front of the room.

On the far right, at the front of the room, you see what looks a little like a judge’s bench in a courtroom. This is where the prosecutor and the court reporter sit. The gentleman on the far right is the prosecutor who is presenting evidence to this grand jury. At the moment, the witness is answering a question the prosecutor has asked him. The grand jurors are usually asked to wait to ask their questions until the prosecutor has finished questioning a witness. 5multi1.jpg (39456 bytes)
The lady sitting beside the prosecutor is the court reporter; she records the proceedings even though what goes on inside a grand jury is secret, in most jurisdictions the proceedings are recorded by a court reporter or by a recording device, such as a tape recorder.

Recording grand jury proceedings does at least two things: It discourages (but does not entirely prevent) prosecutors from abusing witnesses or otherwise behaving improperly in front of the grand jury.

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Also, the transcript of a witness’ testimony can be used at trial. If the witness dies, leaves the country or can’t be called to testify for some other reason, her grand jury testimony can be introduced to show what the witness would say if she were there. If the witness does testify at trial, but says something different than what she said before the grand jury, the prosecutor or defense attorney can use the transcript of her grand jury testimony to impeach her, or to show that she’s told two different stories and that both can’t be true.

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