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Grand Jury - Structure

selection jurors system selected

Certain elements of the legal structure of the grand jury relate primarily to either one or the other of its functions, but there are three basic structural features that influence both its screening and investigative roles—jury composition, jury independence, and the secrecy of jury proceedings.

Grand jury composition. In most jurisdictions grand jurors are drawn from the same constituency, and selected in the same manner, as the jury panel for petit jurors. The federal system and a majority of the states use a random selection system, where jurors are selected at random from a voter registration list or similar list. A smaller group of states use a "discretionary" selection system, under which jurors are selected by local judges or jury commissioners, usually on the basis of recommendations by various community leaders. Both selection systems seek representation reflecting a cross section of the community. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that an indictment is constitutionally invalid if issued by a grand jury chosen through a racially discriminatory selection procedure. Many authorities conclude that the Court also would invalidate an indictment if the grand jury selection procedure failed to meet the other basic nondiscrimination requirement, that the jurors be drawn from a "fair cross section" of the community.

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