What is a grand jury ? A grand jury in Tennessee is made up of a foreperson and 12 members.A Tennessee grand jury’s main duty is to inquire into , consider , and act on all criminal cases submitted to it by the district attorney general.Article I Section 14 of the Tennessee Constitution provides that no person shall be put to answer any criminal charge but by presentment , indictment , or impeachment. So , a grand jury must authorize any criminal charges to be tried before a jury.
Here are some random facts about the grand jury process ;
- The proceedings are secret.
- Normally it is not recorded.
- No witnesses for the defense are allowed to attend unless allowed by the district attorney.
- Hearsay is allowed.
From my perspective , allowing hearsay evidence is the most troubling aspect of the process.The grand jury system was designed to act as a safeguard from abuses of the government.Now , a investigator from the district attorney’s office can just read a report and the arresting officer does not have to testify. So over the years the power of the grand jury has been watered down by allowing hearsay evidence to be admitted.