A grand jury is an essential part of the legal system.
Thank you for your willingness to help your fellow citizens by serving as a grand juror. As a former prosecuting attorney, I can attest that you have been asked to play a vital role in American democracy.
The justice system in America and in Ohio cannot function properly without the dedication and involvement of its citizens. I guarantee that when you come to the end of your time on the grand jury, you will consider this service to have been one of the best experiences of your life.
Our society was founded on the idea of equal justice under law, and the grand jury is a critical part of that system. Thank you again for playing a key role in American justice.
What Is a Grand Jury?
In Ohio, a grand jury decides whether the state has good enough reason to bring felony charges against a person alleged to have committed a crime. Felonies are serious crimes — ranging from murder, rape, other sexual assaults, and kidnapping to drug offenses, robbery, larceny, financial crimes, arson, and many more.
The grand jury is an accusatory body. It does not determine guilt or innocence. The grand jury’s duty is simply to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to make a person face criminal charges. The grand jury is designed to help the state proceed with a fair accusation against a person, while protecting that person from being charged when there is insufficient evidence.
In Ohio, the grand jury is composed of nine people and up to five alternates. All jurors reside in the county and are randomly selected to serve, in the same way that trial — or petit — jurors are selected. The judge chooses a foreperson from the nine jurors.
A grand jury is part of Ohio’s common pleas court system, and the state relies on a grand jury to begin all felony cases.