The Grand Jury is a statutorily mandated and important step in the criminal justice system.
The Grand Jury is comprised of 16 to 23 citizens who are impaneled for one term of court. In Georgia, a regular grand jury has both criminal and civil investigative powers. It can indict a person or persons for a crime and review government operations and make recommendations to improve its services.
DeKalb County Superior Court has a two-month term of court. During that term, the Grand Jury will generally convene two days out of each week for an average of 16 days per term.
Grand Jury proceedings are not open to the public and are, in fact, secret. However, the Grand Jury will regularly produce indictments, special presentments, reports or other documents to be filed with Clerk of Superior Court. Those documents are then part of the public record.
The Grand Jury is very different from a “petit” jury or regular trial jury that only hears one case. Grand Jurors will hear several hundred cases during their term. Further, the Grand Jury does not have to be unanimous in its decision making. The standard used by the Grand Jury is that of probable cause.