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Monday, 13 August 2018 16:08

Statement from Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich on Judges' Grand Jury Orders

Aug. 13, 2018--“In light of today’s order by the Shelby County Criminal Court Judges, this office will resubmit each indictment returned by the grand jury on July 31 of this year. Original indictments from that day will be dismissed and replaced by superseding indictments. This action is being taken following the judges’ orders – one filed last week and a more-detailed order filed today – declaring that Tuesday Grand Jury foreperson Mary Thomas did not follow proper procedure and removing her from further service.
“After receiving the first order, I met with all senior prosecutors late Friday afternoon advising them of the development. I asked them to not dispose of any cases returned by the Tuesday Grand Jury unless and until the defendant’s attorney has been provided a copy of the judges’ order. After receiving the second order this afternoon that narrowed the date to July 31, I decided the appropriate action would be to resubmit all cases indicted on that date.”
Background:
The Grand jury is not an agency of the District Attorney’s office. The foreperson is hired by the Criminal Court judges. The Shelby County DA’s office does not appear before the grand jury unless the grand jury requests their assistance. Only those citizens serving on the grand jury can be present when the grand jury votes.
Two grand juries in Shelby County meet each week independently of one another – one on Tuesday and one on Thursday. Each has its own foreperson.
The grand jury is made up of 12 members, plus five alternates and a foreman, all of them selected by the administrative judge of Criminal Court. The foreman is appointed for a two-year term while other members serve terms of two months. The grand jurors are drawn from the same jury pool used for trials.
Except for a special investigative grand jury, a regular grand jury in Tennessee is not required to record the testimony presented before them. Grand jury proceedings are secret proceedings and grand jurors are sworn to secrecy.
Secrecy in grand jury proceedings is necessary to allow grand jurors to do their work independently and without outside pressure or intimidation.