The Champion

July 2007 , Page 26 

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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 their clients.

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 suspicions.2  

Grand juries operate in two different ways, depending on the jurisdiction and type of case. Where the defend

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