On the Grand Jury
Fully Informed Jury Association
Post Office Box 5570 Helena, MT 59604-5570 1-800-TEL-JURY
The U.S. Attorneys Manual states that prosecutors “must recognize that the grand jury is an independent body, whose functions include not only the investigation of crime and the initiation of criminal prosecution but also the protection of the citizenry from unfounded criminal charges” (USAM, Section 9-11.010). The Manual recognizes that targets of investigations have the right and can “request or demand the opportunity to tell the grand jury their side of the story” (USAM, Section 9-11.152).
The Supreme Court states that the independent grand jury’s purpose is not only to investigate possible criminal conduct, but to act as a “protector of citizens against arbitrary and oppressive governmental action,” and to perform its functions, the independent grand jury “deliberates in secret and may determine alone the course of its inquiry” (United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338 (1974)).
An independent grand jury is to “stand between the prosecutor and the accused,” and to determine whether a charge is legitimate, or is “dictated by malice or personal ill will” (Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43 (1906)). The grand jury is to protect citizens against “hasty, malicious and oppressive persecution” and to insure that prosecutions are not “dictated by an intimidating power or by malice and personal ill will” (Wood v. Georgia, 370 U.S. 375 (1962)).
The independent grand jury is described as “a body with powers of investigation and inquisition, the scope of whose inquiries is not to be limited narrowly by questions of propriety or forecasts of the probable result of the investigation” (Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972)). “Without thorough and effective investigation, the grand jury would be unable either to ferret out crimes deserving of prosecution, or to screen out charges not warranting prosecution.” (U.S. v. Sells Engineering, 463 U.S. 418 (1983)
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