A PETIT jury, or trial jury, hears and decides a case and renders a verdict. A GRAND jury, on the other hand has a different function. A grand jury is asked to decide only whether there is enough evidence to cause a person to be brought to trial for a crime. The grand jury hears only one side of the case—the government's—and it does not render a verdict. Its decision is an “indictment,” which is merely an accusation, or a decision that the person in question should stand trial to determine his/her innocence or guilt.
Grand jurors are usually empaneled for an eighteen-month term of service. The grand jury selection process, known as “empanelment,” takes place on the first day of the term. By no means should you fail to report for the grand jury selection unless you have been previously excused by the court.
Requesting to be excused
As a potential grand juror, you are a part of a very small pool of persons from whom the grand jury will be selected. Therefore, if you have valid reasons that may prevent you from serving, we ask that you contact the jury section as soon as possible for further instructions. If your excuse or request is denied, you will have an opportunity to appeal to the presiding judge in person during the grand jury selection process. By no means should you fail to report for the grand jury selection unless you have been previously excused by the court.
If you are selected
Once empaneled, grand jurors appear at the direction of the U.S. Attorney usually one day per month. The U.S. Attorney's Office will notify you of your next reporting date. If your employer requires you to submit proof of your attendance, a certificate of attendance can be provided to you at the end of each session.
If you are not selected
Your name may be returned to the pool of potential jurors for possible future service as a petit juror. You will not be expected to call or report again unless you receive another summons in the mail.
What about my job?
See Protection of Jurors’ Employment and Message to Employers. If you would like to request an excuse from appearing for the grand jury selection because of work-related issues, please contact the jury section for further instructions. If your excuse request is denied, you will have an opportunity to appeal to the presiding judge in person during the grand jury selection process.