Part 2 in my series about Grand Juries: Who are the "Grand Jurors"?
Grand Jurors are just citizens like anyone else. There are a series of requirements (Article 19.08 of the Code of Criminal Procedure if you really want to look it up), but basically, they come from the same pool of people who get summoned to jury duty. A panel of prospective Grand Jurors are summoned by the Judge, questioned by the Judge, and ultimately the Grand Jury is selected by the Judge out of that panel. Judges used to be able to hand select people to serve on a Grand Jury by selecting a commissioner who could just recruit people to be on the Grand Jury. That system went away a couple of years ago after the last legislative session. Now, there is more randomness to the process.
This change is good for folks who have been accused of crimes. Under the old system, the Grand Juries were often comprised of very conservative retired people, and often these people would serve on Grand Juries over and over again. They were often less likely to scrutinize a case and were perceived by many to be a "rubber stamp" for the State (even though an indictment is still literally rubber stamped - no joke.)
The Grand Juries since this change are often less predictable rubber stamps for the State. Some are, some aren't, but there are often a few Grand Juries that routinely deliver No Bills (case dismissed) at a higher rate than others. This is good for the person who has been accused of a crime. I will address the ways a case can be attacked by the defense at Grand Jury in a later post.
Next time: What goes on in that Grand Jury Room?