Since You Asked

I would like to know how the grand jury is picked in Jackson County. What is the term of duty for a juror? Is there a foreman selected? I've lived here for 22 years and I have not met anyone who has ever served on the grand jury, nor do I have any friends who know anyone who has served. They provide a very important service and I would like to know more about the system.

— Fran O., Rogue River

They do indeed serve quite an important role in the community, Fran. In fact, Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston tells potential grand jurors they are the "gatekeepers to the criminal justice system."

Here's how it works: The grand jury includes seven people who are culled from the same pool as trial juries. The state court in Salem uses voter-registration and drivers-license records to find potential jurors, Huddleston said.

Grand jurors are appointed to two-month terms. They are called to hear initial evidence against a defendant in order to decide whether the district attorney has sufficient cause to proceed with a criminal case. They deal mostly with felonies, though an occasional misdemeanor is heard as long as it is tied to a more serious crime, Huddleston said.

Jackson County has three separate grand juries that meet three days per week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A grand jury can proceed with fewer than seven in attendance, though it takes a least five jurors to agree in handing down an indictment, Huddleston said.

A person can serve on the grand jury more than once, though they can ask to be excused from service within two years of their last appointment, Huddleston said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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