Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 04-22-2004, 09:45 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: lil' north of Atlanta, Ga
Posts: 783
Grand Jury vs. Preliminary Hearing

In this story about Michael Jackson, they mention that grand jury indictments are usually kept secret until the defendant is arraigned and it got me wondering. What are the other differences between the two and how is it determined which one they're going to use? Is it the defendants choice? Are grand juries only used in certain types of cases and if so, what type?

Thanks in advance - DESK
#2
Old 04-22-2004, 10:24 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 23,872
Grand Juries are required to indict someone for a felony, usually a serious one. An arraignment is a court procedure where the defendant enters his plea (guilty or not guilty) and other miscellaneous stuff.
#3
Old 04-22-2004, 10:28 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Where the Wild Things Are
Posts: 13,872
Quote:
Originally Posted by D.E.S.K.Top668
In this story about Michael Jackson, they mention that grand jury indictments are usually kept secret until the defendant is arraigned and it got me wondering. What are the other differences between the two and how is it determined which one they're going to use? Is it the defendants choice? Are grand juries only used in certain types of cases and if so, what type?

Thanks in advance - DESK
The quick, down and dirty answer is that the decision of whether to use a grand jury or a preliminary hearing is strictly up to the prosecution. The defendant has no choice in the matter. Most states require that the prosecution make a showing that there is probable cause for the charge before they can proceed to trial. This can be done either at a preliminary hearing or at grand jury (as an aside, some states allow for other ways for the state's to make their probable cause showing, such as by filing a written Trial Information).

In preliminary hearings, the probable cause determination is done by a judge. The prosecution calls a witness and presents testimony in an effort to convince the judge that there is probable cause for the charge. The preliminary hearing is adversarial in nature, so the defense counsel has the opportunity to cross examine the witness and to call witnesses of their own. In most cases, these run very quickly with the judge making a ruling as soon as the prosecution makes the showing or probable cause.

In grand jury, the probable cause determination is done by the grand jurors. It changes state to state, but generally, a majority of the grand jurors must be convinced that there exists probable cause. In Illinois, the Grand Jury is made up of at least 12, but not more than 16 people, and at least 9 of them must vote for the indictment. Unlike the preliminary hearing, this is a secret proceeding that is non-adversarial in nature. The prosecution runs the show, asking the questions, and there is no cross-examination. Nor is the prosecution required to show the grand jury any exculpatory evidence. After the presentation of the evidence, the jurors vote whether or not there is probable cause and, if there is, they issue an indictment.

Whether to use a grand jury of a preliminary hearing is really a matter of taste by the prosecution. I've done all three (preliminary hearings, grand juries, and trial informations), and I am more comfortable with grand juries. There are valid reasons to use one or the other in any case. In Michael Jackson's case, I would imagine they used the grand jury so they would not have to deal with cross examination, an open hearing, and a jaded judge. You'd have to ask the prosecutors themselves for the real reasons.
#4
Old 04-22-2004, 10:59 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: California
Posts: 4,686
Quote:
The quick, down and dirty answer is that the decision of whether to use a grand jury or a preliminary hearing is strictly up to the prosecution
Not true. In jurisdictions that use Grand Jury, the prosecutor MUST seek an indictment from the Grand Jury. In jurisdictions that do not use Grand Jury, charges are based on an Information filed by the prosecutor.

gotta run, but if still not answered when I get back I will try to answer the OP in more detail. But there are plenty of legal dopers more qualified than me, I suspect one will answer before I get back.
#5
Old 04-22-2004, 11:30 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Where the Wild Things Are
Posts: 13,872
Quote:
Originally Posted by askeptic
Not true. In jurisdictions that use Grand Jury, the prosecutor MUST seek an indictment from the Grand Jury. In jurisdictions that do not use Grand Jury, charges are based on an Information filed by the prosecutor.

gotta run, but if still not answered when I get back I will try to answer the OP in more detail. But there are plenty of legal dopers more qualified than me, I suspect one will answer before I get back.
California, which is where Mr. Jackson is charged, allows for either grand jury or preliminary hearings. Hence the "quickness" and "down and dirtiness" of my response.

Last time I checked, only 19 of the 50 states REQUIRE the use of the grand jury (for those who care, they are: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia). Four other states (Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Rhode Island) require the grand jury only for crimes that could result in capital punishment or life imprisonment. In most of the other States, where the grand jury is not required, the choice of calling and using a grand jury or proceeding by preliminary hearing (or trial information) remains with the prosecution.

I apologize if I confused anyone.
#6
Old 04-22-2004, 12:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: California
Posts: 4,686
My bad, not yours Hamlet. I was running out the door. Had I noticed your user name I would have realized that I probably just misunderstood your post, and waited till I had time to read it more carefully.
#7
Old 04-22-2004, 12:49 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: California
Posts: 4,686
I was just reacting to the use of the term "strictly". Again had I noticed it was your post, I would not have been so quick to say "Not true".

[askeptik wonders off shaking head with an embarased smile and glowing red cheeks]
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:48 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: eithne pronunciation gomez adams tommy hilfiger wikipedia straight bait system tony robbins acromegaly water in tailpipe honda pax wheels baking soda gargle match.com activity status metaphor grandmother dying how to use a shower curtain liner how to open a comic book store how many cartons of cigarettes are in a case hot shot no-pest strip how far can a .22 bullet travel are brita filters worth it forge signature on check all along the watchtower bsg why are europe and asia separate continents how do you pronounce the capital of south dakota best indoor pest control what is truffle flavor drawn together nipple ring ring goes to foster care