Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grand jury service

Yesterday (and today) I reported to the Westchester county courthouse (in White Plains NY) for service as a grand juror. Some years ago I spent 2 days in the same courthouse not being selected as a regular juror. That was my only previous experience with the jury service. Grand jury service is quite a bit different than regular jury service. I am one of a panel of 23 grand jurors who on 10 days spread over the next 4 weeks will hear many cases. For each case we will decide if the DA has presented enough evidence to bring an indictment (after which a trial before a regular jury will determine guilt). Only 12 votes are needed to indict and the standard of proof is a lesser reasonable cause (as opposed to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt) so I expect indictment will be the usual outcome.

Yesterday I was placed on one of three panels (of 23 people each) who will hear cases for the remainder of the month. We were given some general instructions yesterday and some more detailed instructions this morning after which we began to hear cases. The proceedings are secret which means we are legally prohibited from disclosing any of the testimony or deliberations so I will not describe any of the specific cases.

We were told that grand jury service is more interesting (and pleasant) than regular jury service which I expect is true (although this is not necessarily saying much). Among other things grand jurors can ask questions of the witnesses.

We get paid $40 a day (the same as regular jurors). Not very much but I do like the idea of some money coming in.

Here (pdf file) is the NY Grand Juror's handbook. Procedures in other states will vary.

No comments:

Post a Comment