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Mini Law School: How Grand Juries Work

Welcome to the Mini Law School for the Public podcast series, brought to you by the Missouri Bar and Saint Louis University School of Law.

The Aug. 9, 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr., an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., by white police officer Darren Wilson, and the events that followed brought the grand jury process to the front and center for many people in our state and beyond. As global attention focused on the suburban St. Louis town, it became evident much of the public did not understand how a grand jury works.

First Assistant Circuit Attorney Jane Darst and Chief Trial Assistant Beth Orwick kick off this podcast series with an explanation of the grand jury process, breaking it down in an easy to understand series of examples.

Article I, Section 16 of the Missouri Bill of Rights states, “That a grand jury shall consist of twelve citizens, any nine of whom concurring may find an indictment or a true bill: Provided, that no grand jury shall be convened except upon an order of a judge of a court having the power to try and determine felonies; but when so assembled such grand jury shall have power to investigate and return indictments for all character and grades of crime; and that the power of grand juries to inquire into the willful misconduct in office of public officers, and to find indictments in connection therewith, shall never be suspended.”

Listen to Darst and Orwick as they interact with Mini Law School attendees and provide meaning and context to the law, including lawyer duties, a prosecutor’s special responsibilities — “to seek justice, not merely convict”  — and how most cases proceed through the criminal justice system, issuing charges through the warrant office, what standards must be met, proceedings and how a grand jury is sworn in.

Darst and Orwick also dismantle common public misconceptions about grand juries, such as “a grand jury is nothing but a rubber stamp for the prosecutor,” and why such perceptions exist.

Listen to the podcast here:

Missouri Bar Mini Law School: How Grand Juries Work 1 [Download]

Missouri Bar Mini Law School: How Grand Juries Work 2 [Download]


Each lecture and podcast is provided in two, 1-hour segments for easy downloading and listening. Stay tuned as the entire six-week series of podcasts are posted here on the MissouriLawyersHelp.org blog. Next week: Municipal Courts. 

                

Photos: First Assistant Circuit Attorney Jane Darst and Chief Trial Assistant Beth Orwick explain the grand jury process to attendees at the Mini Law School for the Public in St. Louis.

Click here to learn more about the Mini Law School for the Public.

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