Composition and Workings Of the Ferguson Grand Jury

(Reuters) -

A grand jury has heard evidence in the fatal shooting in August in Ferguson, Missouri, of a black teenager, Michael Brown, and acquitted Darren Wilson of all charges Monday.

The St. Louis County’s prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, outlined the jury’s responsibility and its composition in a statement issued in October. The grand jury’s sole function, McCulloch said, “is to answer a single question: What, if any, charges shall be brought?”

Following is a description of the function of grand juries in the St. Louis County courts and details of the jury hearing the Brown case:

Composition

In St. Louis County, grand juries are composed of 12 citizens. The jury’s function is to make a “preliminary decision about a criminal charge: whether or not probable cause exists that a crime has been committed and that the accused committed it.”

The Ferguson grand jury is composed of seven men and five women, nine white and three black. They vary by age, and socioeconomic status, and  they live in various parts of St. Louis County.

How the Jury Works

An indictment requires agreement by at least nine jurors. As in a jury trial, only the grand jurors are present during deliberations and their vote.

The prosecuting attorney does not participate in selecting the grand jury. The prosecutor presents evidence and “serves as the legal advisor to the grand jury.” In the Ferguson case, two assistant prosecutors were presenting the evidence.

Normally, in a homicide case, one or two investigators summarize the medical and scientific evidence, other physical evidence and witness statements.

McCulloch said he will ask that the evidence be released to the public “as soon as possible, if not immediately.”