Grand jury determines if case can go to trial

I was called for grand jury duty. I don't mind doing my civic duty, but I was wondering: What is the difference between grand jury and other jury duties?

I've asked a few friends around here, but no one has ever served on grand jury duty. I would appreciate if you could clarify this for me.

— Carl W., Medford

We could tell you, Carl. Or you could just tell your friends grand jury is like the advanced placement classes in high school. You know, make them think you're a genius. We'd back you.

But you probably want the real inside story, so here goes.

The grand jury's purpose is to determine whether the prosecution has enough evidence to take a suspect to trial.

Grand jurors hear many presentations of evidence during their time, as many as 15 to 20 a day. Each one takes an average of 20 minutes to present, and there is no defense attorney present.

"It's just the prosecution and witnesses presenting their case," said Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert. "The purpose is different."

As you probably know, Carl, you may also be selected for the type of jury that listens to both sides during a case and decides an outcome.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to

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