The 14th Judicial District seated its first grand jury in more than 30 years on March 12, at the request of the District Attorney, Brett Barkey.
Barkey is not calling the grand jury for any particular case, rather he is “building the fire house” before a case arises that would necessitate it, Barkey said.
“As the elected DA, I owe it to the community to set up a grand jury and test drive it,” he said. “My instinct says it will be very helpful.”
A grand jury is an investigative body made up of members of the community which, unlike a trial jury, has the authority to call witnesses, decide what evidence they would like to see, and also has the authority to make a charging decision in a case.
The grand jury, which is seated for a year and whose proceedings and members are kept secret, will periodically convene at the DA’s request and will deliberate and decide on high-profile cases where community input is needed.
“This is a critical investigation tool where representatives of the community assist in investigating and making charging decisions in some of the most challenging cases we have,” Barkey said. “I very much look forward to working with the grand jury and greatly appreciate their willingness to serve on these tough cases.”
Grand jurors are paid up to $50 a day for the first three days served by their regular employers and up to $50 per day from the state after the third day served. The DA’s office will absorb the cost of the grand jury during this test year.