The grand jury may conduct hearings
whether there is sufficient evidence
an indictment charging a person with
offense; however, the district attorney
calls for impanelment of separate juries
drawn from the petit (regular trial)
pool to bring criminal indictments.
jury has the power of subpoena.
The origin of the grand jury has been
to the time of the Norman Conquest
in 1066. Generally, historians agree
the assize (inquest) of Clarendon in
was the genesis of our present grand
In the United States, the Massachusetts
Colony impaneled the first grand jury
1635 to consider cases of murder, robbery
and wife beating. By the end of the
period the grand jury had become an
adjunct of government. Grand juries
new laws, protested against abuses
and wielded tremendous authority in
power to determine who should and should
not face trial.
The grand jury in California is unique
that its duties include investigation
county government as provided by statutes
passed in 1880. Only a few other states
grand jury investigation beyond alleged
of public officials. The earliest reference
to the existence of a grand jury in
is dated 1849.