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An Overview of How Grand Juries Operate
By Thomas J. Farrell
Clients and even many lawyers find federal grand juries mysterious.
As the number of grand jury proceedings increases,1 criminal defense
lawyers are under enormous pressure to develop expertise in how grand
juries work. This article will explore the major phases of a grand jury
investigation and how defense attorneys can best prepare themselves and
Grand jurors are selected from the same pool as regular jurors, but
defense attorneys do not play any role in selecting the jurors.
Typically, the grand jury consists of 16 to 23 members who sit for 18
months, but only for a few days each month, and they hear evidence in
any number of investigations underway at the same time. Neither probable
cause nor reasonable suspicion is required to initiate a grand jury
investigation; it is free to investigate the flimsiest of rumors and
Grand juries operate in two different ways, depending on the
jurisdiction and type of case. Where the defend
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