What Takes Place at a Grand Jury Proceeding
Since the prosecutor is the only party who presents evidence at a grand jury in New Jersey, he or she has significant control over the proceedings. The prosecutor decides those cases that will be presented on a particular date, what witnesses shall be called, and where in the sequence of matters a case shall fall. A grand jury presentation begins with an opening statement from the prosecutor that typically outlines the facts that shall be presented, along with the charges against the defendant. Prosecution witnesses and any documentary evidence is thereafter presented to the Grand Jury by the prosecution. All testimony is recorded via a court stenographer and all other evidence is appropriately identified and marked for preservation. After all witnesses and evidence is presented, the grand jurors are left to deliberate in private. A decision to indict or a “No Bill” is rendered at the conclusion of the deliberations.
Composition of the Grand Jury
A panel of 23 grand jurors are randomly selected from a list compiled using tax records, voter registrations, and motor vehicle records. A foreperson is selected from the panel at random.
Grand Jury Voting
Twelve jurors must vote in favor to indict in order for an indictment to be issued. If less than twelve votes to indict are returned by the Grand Jury, then a no bill is issued.
Secrecy of Proceedings
As a general rule, proceedings before the Grand Jury are in secrecy. Grand jurors, the prosecutor, and witnesses, are not permitted to disclose what transpires in the proceedings.
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