What Is The Overview Of The Grand Jury?

Just who are these grand jurors? The grand jury simply is a group of randomly selected individuals from the community, selected in a manner free of any taint of discriminatory purpose. State v. Ramseur, 106 N.J. 123, 215 (1987); State v. Rochester,  54 N.J. 85,88 (1969); State v. Porro, 152 N.J. Super. 259, 265-266 (Law Div. 1977), aff’d, 158 N.J. Super. 269 (App. Div.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1047 (1978). The grand jurors number no more than twenty-three and no less than sixteen for a quorum. R. 3:6-1.

Grand juries are convened in every county of the State by the Assignment Judge. R. 3:6-1. There is also at least one State Grand Jury always in existence, N.J.S.A. 2A:73A-2, which is impanelled and is subject to the same rules applicable to county grand juries. R.3:6-11. The Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court has designated an Assignment Judge of the Superior Court to impanel and supervise the State Grand Jury or Grand Juries. All grand jurors serve for the term of the grand jury, which is not to exceed twenty (20) weeks unless otherwise ordered by the Assignment Judge. R. 3:6-10. Under this same rule, the Assignment Judge may extend the term of the grand jury for a definite period of time not to exceed three (3) months, unless any further order is entered extending the grand jury term for further terms of three (3) calendar months each.

A typical grand jury often hears a multitude of different cases while impaneled. Some cases are presented and completed in one session, while other cases may require a number of sessions to be presented fully. Thus, there arises the question of what happens when a grand juror, who misses a session at which evidence is presented, is later called upon to vote on an indictment. Under State v. Del Fino, 100 N.J. 154, 164, (1985), a court giving preliminary instructions to a grand jury must charge that any grand juror who has missed a session should review a transcript of the evidence presented and should inspect any tangible evidence adduced during the missed session. Moreover, under State v. Ciba-Geigy, 222 N.J. Super, 343, 354-355 (App. Div.), certif. granted, 111 N.J. 574 (1988), a grand juror’s failure to have informed himself about evidence presented during a session at which he was not in attendance disqualified him from that portion of the indictment relating to the evidence which was missed. See also State v. Reynolds, 166 N.J. Super 570, 576 (Law Div. 1981), aff’d, 185 N.J. Super 494 (App. Div.), certify denied,  91 N.J. 543 (1982).

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