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Grand Jury

n. a jury in each county or federal court district which serves for a term of a year and is usually selected from a list of nominees offered by the judges in the county or district. The traditional 23 members may be appointed or have their names drawn from those nominated. A Grand Jury has two responsibilities 1) to hear evidence of criminal accusations in possible felonies (major crimes) presented by the District Attorney and decide whether the accused should be indicted and tried for a crime. Since many felony charges are filed by the District Attorney in a municipal or other lower court which holds a preliminary hearing to determine if there is just cause for trial instead of having the Grand Jury hear the matter, this function is of minor importance in many jurisdictions. 2) to hear evidence of potential public wrong-doing by city and county officials, including acts which may not be crimes but are imprudent, ineffective or inefficient, and make recommendations to the county and cities involved. Example: a Grand Jury may recommend that a new jail is needed, find that there is evidence of favoritism in the sheriff's office, that some city council members are profiting by overlooking drug dealing by city staffers, or that judges are not carrying a full load of cases to be tried.

See also: charge  indictment  preliminary hearing 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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