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David Harris Explains Grand Juries

David Harris

A grand jury is a legal body that is empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and to determine whether criminal charges should be brought.

One of the most famous grand juries was used in the investigation of President Clinton by Ken Starr.

More recently a grand jury is now investigating the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. University of Pittsburgh Law professor David Harris joins us to discuss the role of grand juries and their role in our justice system.

The history of grand juries, Harris explains, is rooted in the English Common Law system.

In our legal system, the grand jury is designed to decide whether there’s enough evidence to go forward and have a trial.

Grand juries consist of 23 people or fewer, and their jurors are typically selected by a chief judge or by a lottery system. Their job is to hear evidence brought to them by the prosecution to decide whether there’s probable cause or not.

With regard to the famous grand jury led by Ken Starr, Harris recommends curious readers to pick up Duquesne University law professor Ken Gormley’s book “The Death of American Virtue.”

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