The grand jury
consists of eighteen persons. In Cumberland County,
nine grand jurors members are selected from the pool of jurors reporting
for the first criminal term of court commencing after January 1, April 1,
July 1, and October 1.
A grand jury
member serves for six months in Cumberland County and the Grand Jury usually
meets once a month. The dates of those meetings are provided to all
members of the grand jury on a six months basis. Upon the selection of a
new grand jury, the court will select a foreman to preside over all
meetings. The grand jury will receive instructions by the court prior to
holding their first meeting. All meetings of the grand jury are private
and matters discussed are to be kept confidential.
jury determines whether persons accused of felonies probably committed
the crime for which they are charged. Indictment (official accusation by
the grand jury) is a necessary prerequisite to trying a person initially
in the superior court, unless the accused waives indictment. The accused
may waive indictment in all cases except those for which the punishment
would be death.
may not discharge or demote any employee because of the employee’s service as a grand juror.
(Instruction by the Judge to selected Grand
jury is an ancient and honored institution, whose existence is firmly
embedded in the system of justice, which we inherited from our mother
country. Our State Constitution guarantees that no person shall be placed
on trial for a felony without his consent, unless he has been indicted by
a grand jury. This provision is a barrier against unjust prosecution. The
grand jury not only brings to trial persons who have been accused of
crime, but also protects persons from unfounded accusations.
(l) TERM OF
the grand jury of Cumberland
County is for
approximately six months. During those six months, you
will be notified at your first meeting of the dates of the meetings for
your period of service. After convening you will meet from day to day
until all business pending before you is complete, which is normally for
a period of one day and only when this court is in session. When your
business is complete, you will adjourn until the next regular time for
you to convene, or until you are caused to be convened. As a practical
matter, this means that your service on the grand jury will probably
require about one day a month of your time during the next six months,
but more or less time may be required depending on the work which
It is the
duty of each of you to be present every time this grand jury is convened.
However, your foreman may excuse individual jurors from attending a
particular meeting of the grand jury, except that he may not excuse more
than two of you for any one session. Such excuses should be granted only
is a case of sickness, death in the family or a similar emergency. No
grand juror may be excused permanently without consulting with the court.
jury consists of eighteen (18) members. Nine of you will be selected at
this session and nine of you will already have been serving for about
A quorum is
the number of members of a group, which must be present for that group to
transact business lawfully. For a grand jury, a quorum is twelve, so at
least 12 of you must be present at all times for the lawful transaction
of business. If less than 12 of you are present, even if only for a short
time, the proceedings of the grand jury must stop until a quorum is once
All of your
hearings will be presided over by your foreman. It is the duty of the
presiding Judge to appoint one of the grand jurors as foreman of each
grand jury, and I have heretofore appointed a foreman who will serve until
his term of the grand jury expires or until a successor is appointed.
- BILLS OF INDICTMENT.
duty after retiring to the grand jury room will be to investigate and
pass upon such bills of indictment as may be handed to you by the
District Attorney for the State. A bill of indictment is simply a written
accusation charging a person with the commission of one or more criminal
offenses. The District Attorney will prepare these bills and enter upon
each bill the names of such witnesses as he may deem necessary for you to
examine on behalf of the State.
wishes to impose upon you the fact that it is not your duty to try the
question of the guilt of innocence of the defendant named in the bill of
indictment. That is the province of the petit jury in the presence of the
Court, where the defendant is present and may be heard. It is only your
province to hear the evidence on behalf of the State and to proceed with
the investigation far enough to satisfy twelve of your number that the
crime named in the bill under investigation has probably been committed
and that there is probable cause that the defendant is guilty of the
cause is defined to be a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves, to warrant a cautious
person in the belief that the person accused is guilty of the offense of
which he is charged. You need to answer only two questions: FIRST, was a
crime probably committed, and SECOND did the defendant probably commit
will call those persons whose names are listed on the bill as witnesses,
one at a time. Your foreman will mark the bill by placing an
"X" or check mark by the name of each witness who was sworn and
examined by you in connection with that bill. If you wish to hear any
other person not named on a bill under consideration, you must through
your foreman request the District Attorney to add that person’s name to
the bill and call him as a witness. The person accused in a bill of
indictment is never himself called to be questioned by the grand jury.
No one may be
present with you in the grand jury room while you are hearing a witness,
other that the witness, an interpreter for the witness or law enforcement
officer holding the witness in custody. If either of the latter is
present, he must be sworn to secrecy, just as you have been.
has the power to administer oaths or affirmations to all witnesses. The
witnesses should be examined one at a time. They should be sworn by the
foreman, and questioned first by him and then, if desired, by the other
members of the grand jury. All questions should be impartial and
objective, without indicating any viewpoint or opinion on the part of the
Constitution provides that no person called as a witness before you may
be compelled to be a witness against himself. This means that a witness
has the absolute right to refuse to answer any question asked by you if
his answer would in any way incriminate him.
ON BILLS OF INDICTMENT.
When all of
the evidence is heard, you will discuss an act on each bill of indictment
before you. During the deliberations and voting of the grand jury only the
grand jurors may be present in the grand jury room.
must return to the presiding judge in open court all bills of indictment
submitted to you by the District Attorney. You may act on them in any of
four ways: If you find form the evidence presented to you that there is
probable cause for the charge made in the bill of indictment, you will
return that bill of indictment as a "a true bill". A
finding of a true bill requires the concurrence of at least twelve
of your members. This is true no matter how may of your are present. If
twelve of you do not find probable cause for the charge made, you will
return the bill of indictment as "not a true bill". You
may find probable cause and return "a true bill"
whenever twelve of your number concur, after examining one or more
witnesses. However, you may not return a bill as "not a true bill"
until you have examined all of the witnesses marked on it. You may also,
if twelve of you concur, return a bill to the court with the indication
that you have not been able to act upon it because witnesses were not
available. If you return a bill of indictment as not a true bill, you may
at the same time request the District Attorney to submit a bill of
indictment to a lesser included offense or an offense related to the one
good order and morality of the community depends in a large measure upon
the diligence, intelligence and honesty with which you perform the
important duties resting upon you and you alone. You must be fair and
just in your deliberations to the best of your understanding. On the one
hand you should disregard any charges brought for the purpose of
persecution. On the other hand if you fail to indict those probably
guilty of serious infractions of the law, you will bring the law and the
courts into disrepute. Your oath requires that you do not indict any
person through fear, favor, regard, reward or the hope of reward. You
must be guided by an impartial spirit, free from personal, social,
racial, religious or political bias or feeling. No man is above the law,
and no man should be too high to be called to account and put upon trial
by you to answer for his crimes; neither should any man be to humble to
merit your protection from oppression or malicious prosecution.
all grand jury proceedings is the utmost importance. The purpose of
secrecy it three-fold: first, it guarantees that each of you is free to
discuss and debate the evidence fully and vigorously without any fear
that what you say or do may be made public at any future time. Second, it
prevents anyone charged with a crime from learning of your investigation
before it is complete and reduces the chance that such a person will
escape and defeat the process of criminal justice. Finally, it shields
from publicity those persons against whom accusations are brought which
you find unfounded. If publicity were given to the fact that the grand
jury investigated a person, his reputation might be ruined, even though
he is innocent of any crime.
precludes now and forevermore any comment or publicity on what goes on in
the grand jury room. It is your solemn obligation to keep secret
everything that takes place in the grand jury room, including the
subjects discussed or the identity of the persons who appear before you.
I repeat; your oath requires you to keep in absolute secrecy all matters,
persons and discussions that occur in your sessions. This duty exists
throughout the time of your service and continues forever afterwards.
of your work is also protected by law. Any grand juror who discloses,
other than at the direction of the Court, any matter occurring before the
grand jury, is in contempt of court and subject to proceedings in
accordance with law. In addition, it is improper for others to question
you about what happened in the grand jury.
attention to testimony of witnesses. Listen to the evidence and the
opinions of you fellow jurors and be absolutely fair. Because of the
secrecy of the proceedings in the grand jury, no one else may inquire
into what you have done. Each of you should make his opinion known, but
none of your should be adamant or dictatorial, as each is entitled to his
own opinion. At all times, remember that your are NOT determining
the guilt of innocence of the accused. Rather, in order for you to return
a bill as a true bill, you must find that a crime has probably been
committed, and from the evidence presented to you, there is probable
cause to believe that the person charged in the bill of indictment
committed the crime. Do not try the case in the grand jury room.
proceedings, if you require an explanation of the charge of the bill of
indictment, you should seek advise or information from the presiding
judge. You should keep in mind that it is your right to approach the
court at any time. This right the law regards as paramount. When you have
occasion to come to the court for any purpose whatsoever, either is a
body or individually, you are not required to wait. The Court will pause
to await your pleasure.
to acting upon bills of indictment, you may consider any offense to which
you attention has been called by the presiding judge. Also, if twelve of
your concur, you may investigate other matters properly before you; or
which is brought to your knowledge by the observations or disclosures of
your own members. If you wish to call a witness, request the Court to do
so on your behalf and it will take the matter under advisement.
investigating such offenses, you will take no action unless your find
probable cause to charge some person with a specific crime. If you do
find such probable cause, you may return to the Court a presentment,
which is simply your own motion, in a form similar to that of an
indictment, charging one or more persons with the commission of one or
more criminal offenses. In order for you to return a presentment, twelve
of you much concur. Your presentment would not institute criminal
proceedings, but the District Attorney would investigate the factual
background and submit a bill of indictment if appropriate.
The court will make no effort to name and define to your various crimes.
It would be an endless task. Suffice it to say that you will know by
common sense and general knowledge substantially what most crimes are.
Keep in mind that you may request the Court at any time for additional
instructions should some unusual question of law present itself.
sometime during your term, you must inspect all jails in the County and
report in writing to the Court concerning the condition of the facilities
you have inspected and the manner in which the jailers or superintendents
have discharged their lawful duties. In addition you may inspect and
report on other county offices or agencies, and investigate any other
matter to which your attention has been called to the presiding judge.
These duties imposed upon you may be very useful in your County or they
may amount to nothing, depending entirely upon the manner of executing
your trust. Make an honest investigation, and if conditions are not as
they should be, so report in writing to the Court, together with your
recommendations as to how such conditions should be remedied. Fear not to
praise such officers that are deserving of it and are performing their
full duty; but try not to cover up incompetence and mismanagement for
fear of hurting someone’s feelings or giving a black eye to his political
aspirations, for it is the policy of the law to encourage those who are
performing their full duty as contemplated by the law, and to censure and
punish those who are not.
membership on the grand jury is a high honor . You are among a relatively
small number of citizens in Cumberland
County who are
chosen to serve on the grand jury. This should mean that you give
responsible participation in performing your grand jury duties. You are
an integral part of the machinery of the Courts and of your State. Always
remember that the proper administration of justice remains the foundation
stone of your way of life. It must always be above suspicion.
wishes to thank you in advance for taking the time out of your busy life
to perform this important civic duty. We realize that you are making a personal
sacrifice and believe that you will find this experience to be one the
most rewarding you have had. Furthermore, at the end of your term as a
grand juror, you will have the satisfaction of having helped to render
justice among your fellow citizens.