Citizens of Chatham County who serve on the grand jury assume an important role in the administration of justice in our community. Service on the grand jury is one way in which you, as a responsible citizen, are able to directly participate in your government.
The grand jury has the responsibility of protecting the public from those who commit crimes, while simultaneously safeguarding individuals from ungrounded prosecution.
Grand jurors meet once a week, typically Wednesday mornings, and serve for a period of three months.
All citizens of Georgia may serve on a grand jury if:
- they are a citizen of the United States;
- they are 18 years of age or older;
- they are not incompetent because of mental illness or retardation;
- they are a current resident of the county and have
resided in the county for six months prior to serving;
- they are the most experienced, intelligent and upright of persons
- any citizen who meets these basic requirements is eligible to be selected for grand jury duty unless he or she:
- has been convicted of a felony in a state or federal court and has not
- been pardoned or had his or her civil rights restored;
- currently holds or has, within the previous two years, held an elected office in state or local government;
- has served as a grand juror in a state court at the preceding term of court.
Individuals who are 70 years old or older may request, in writing, to have their names removed from the jury lists. For further information on this, you should ask the district attorney.
All jurors are selected from a list of the qualified residents of the county. This list is developed by the Board of Jury Commissioners so that it reflects a fair cross-section of the citizens of the county. The primary sources for this list are driver’s license records and voter registrations, but the commissioners may use any other source to ensure that the jury list fairly represents the population of the county.
The Grand Jury’s Legal Advisor – The District Attorney
By law, the district attorney (Meg Heap) is the legal advisor for the grand jury. In so providing, the legislature recognized that most citizens who serve on the grand jury are unfamiliar with the many technicalities of the law. The district attorney is responsible for advising you on any questions of law or procedure which you may have as a grand jury. In 1973, the Georgia Supreme Court held that the grand jury must rely on the district attorney for legal advice and may not employ any other lawyer for that purpose. Assisting the district attorney in carrying out these duties will be assistant district attorneys and other employees of his or her office.
In addition to serving as legal advisor to the grand jury, the district attorney and his staff are counsel for the State in all criminal cases which will be brought before you. The district attorney’s office will prepare the cases for presentation to the grand jury and subpoena necessary witnesses. The district attorney and assistant district attorneys are authorized to be present with the grand jury when cases are being presented. They may also administer the oath to and question witnesses before the grand jury. Any presentments or indictments which the grand jury requests be drawn will be prepared by the district attorney’s office.
For questions, and assistance with grand jury service, contact the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office at 912-652-7308.
Source: Grand Jury Handbook (2009); Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia