By Anne Yeager | May 16, 2019
A new grand jury video educates Ohioans on its role in the court process.
The Ohio Supreme Court is releasing a new grand jury video and pamphlet available to all Ohio judges, courts, and schools as a way to educate potential grand jury members and the public.
The recommendations come as a result of a report from the Task Force to Examine Improvements to the Ohio Grand Jury System in 2016.
“The justice system in America and in Ohio cannot function properly without the dedication and involvement of its citizens,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor explains in the video and pamphlet. “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.”
In Ohio, a grand jury decides whether the state has good enough evidence 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 the trial — or petit — jurors are selected. The judge or prosecutor 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.
The task force was formed by the chief justice and included judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law professors, legislators, members of law enforcement, and community leaders.