The recent debate over civil trials or military tribunals for suspected terrorists has focused public attention on the American court system. A cornerstone aspect to the federal courts is the grand jury, which investigates crimes against the United States and secures the constitutional right of grand jury indictment, two responsibilities needing broad powers. A US District Court summons a grand jury, so the jury's jurisdiction is geographically restricted by the court to which it is attached. The grand jury conducts its business in secret, but that independence does not often result in the dismissal of indictments. Although witnesses subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury are not often excused, they do benefit from several legal rights when testifying. This book presents a broad overview of the rules and background of the federal grand jury, a needed service for anyone wishing to understand the American system of justice and its potential use in the war on terror.
Lyn Farrel, Editor