What is a grand jury?

A grand jury is a body that consists of at least sixteen but no more than twenty-three people, impaneled by a superior court and which constitutes a part of said court. The functions of it are to hear and examine evidence that concerns offenses as well as misconduct, nonfeasance and neglect in public office, whether criminal or not, and to take action with respect to any evidence that’s provided.

How do the rules work?

The appellate division of each judicial department must adopt rules that govern the number and terms that grand juries will be drawn for and impaneled by the superior courts in its department. This is provided, of course, that a grand jury can be drawn and impaneled for any extraordinary term of the supreme court, on the order of a justice assigned to hold said term.

How long do terms for a grand jury last?

A term for a superior court that a grand jury has been impaneled for stays in existence at least until/including the opening date of the next term of the court that a grand jury has been designated for. On this date, or within five days before, the court is allowed to, on declaration of both the grand jury and the DA that the grand jury hasn’t yet completed or won’t be able to complete certain business before it, actually extend the term of court and the existence of the grand jury to some specified future date, and is allowed to order further extensions for this purpose. At any time when a grand jury’s in recess and no other appropriate grand jury’s in existence in the county, the court is allowed to, on application of the DA or of a defendant held by a local criminal court for the action of a grand jury, order the grand jury to reconvene so they can deal with a matter that requires grand jury action.

How is a grand jury formed and organized?

The mode of selecting grand jurors and drawing/impaneling grand juries is governed by the judiciary law. Neither the grand jury panel nor a grand juror can be challenged, but the court is allowed at any time before a grand jury is sworn to discharge the panel and instead summon another panel if it finds the original panel doesn’t conform to the requirements of the judiciary law. They can also, at any time after a grand juror is drawn, refuse to swear them, or discharge them after they’ve been sworn, on finding that they’re disqualified from service or incapable of performing their duties because of either bias or prejudice, or that they’re guilty of misconduct in the performance of their duties in a way that impairs the functioning of the grand jury. After a grand jury’s been impaneled, the court needs to appoint one of the grand jurors as foreman and another one to act as foreman during any absence or disability. The grand jurors must also appoint one of themselves as secretary to keep records about the conduct of the grand jury`s business. The grand jurors must be sworn by the court. The oath can be in any form that requires the grand jurors to perform their duties faithfully. After a grand jury has been sworn, the court must deliver to each grand juror a printed copy of all the provisions, and the court can also give the grand jurors oral and/or written instructions relating to the proper performance of their duties as deemed necessary. If two or more grand juries are impaneled at the same court term, the court is allowed to transfer grand jurors from one panel to another, and any transferred grand juror is deemed to have been sworn as a member of the panel they’ve been transferred to.

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