Service on a grand jury will provide you with a unique opportunity to participate in the administration of justice. In order to better appreciate the functions of the grand jury today, it is necessary to understand a little about its history and evolution.
The Grand Jury Handbook summarizes the history, law and procedures governing the Grand Jury. This handbook provides you with an overview of the duties, functions and limitations of the Grand Jury.
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In the American common law legal system, a grand jury determines if there is enough evidence for a trial. Grand juries carry out this duty by examining evidence presented to them by a prosecutor and issuing indictments, or by investigating alleged crimes and issuing presentments. A grand jury is traditionally larger and distinguishable from a petit jury, which is used during a trial.
Georgia grand juries are also authorized, and in some cases required, to perform duties unrelated to criminal law. These functions, traditionally referred to as civil functions or duties, fall into four categories: inspections or investigations, elections and voting, appointments and nominations, and miscellaneous duties.
All residents of Georgia may serve on a grand jury if:
- They are a citizen of the United States
- They are 18 years of age or older
- They are not incompetent because of mental illness or retardation
- They are a current resident of the county and have resided in the county for six months prior to serving
- They are the most experienced, intelligent and upright of persons
Any citizen who meets these basic requirements is eligible to be selected for grand jury duty unless he or she:
- Has been convicted of a felony in a state or federal court and has not been pardoned or had his or her civil rights restored
- Currently holds or has, within the previous two years, held an elected office in state or local government;
- Has served as a grand juror in a state court at the preceding term of court.
Individuals who are 70 years old or older may request, in writing, to have their names removed from the jury lists. For further information on this, you should ask the district attorney.
All jurors are selected from a list of the qualified residents of the county. This list is developed by the Board of Jury Commissioners to reflect a fair cross-section of the residents of the county. The primary sources for this list are driver’s license records and voter registrations, but the commissioners may use any other source to ensure that the jury list fairly represents the population of the county.
The jury list is revised at least every two years. From this list the commissioners develop a second list containing names of the most intelligent and upright residents of the community from which the grand jurors will be selected.