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Publication Date


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Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law


grand juries, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas


In summer 2003, I was a grand jury foreperson for the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in Cleveland, Ohio. The service of this grand jury, and my tenure as foreperson, were unique in the annals of grand juries. We were selected and sworn in the same manner as any grand jury, but heard cases for only one day of our four-month term-the last day. In the interim, the prosecutor filed cases in two courts, seeking to discharge us, as being “tainted” by our supervising judge's initial instructions about our duties and the law. I begin this essay with basic information about grand juries, then tell what happened to our grand jury, and conclude by reflecting on what I learned from this experience. My theme is the tension between the grand jury's independence and the prosecutor's desire to control it. The lesson I learned, intellectually and emotionally, is the depth and tenacity of the prosecutor's assumption that he does control, and has the right to control, the grand jury process. I also learned some lessons about being a client, and believing in oneself and one's principles.