Cuyahoga Co court to review grand jury process

Posted at 12:29 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 12:29:11-05

The Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court is planning a review of the local grand jury process.

The court announced Thursday that Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo created a Grand Jury Review Committee to look at the process and determine if there are ways to make it more efficient. 

This comes one day after a report came out that the grand jury did not vote on any specific criminal charges in the Tamir Rice case.

"Even though the grand jury process has made headlines recently, this review is something I have been considering since I first became Administrative Judge in 2014," said Judge Russo.  "It should not be interpreted as anything more than making sure the system works as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We have similar committees looking at most aspects of the Court's operation."

Each Cuyahoga County grand jury is made up of 14 citizens who are selected at random. Those grand juries are then assigned to a judge from the common pleas court. The judge can appoint a foreperson or select a foreperson from the citizens summoned in the random draw. Once the grand jury is seated, the judge's role is to answer legal questions that may arise.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office determines the cases that are presented, along with witnesses and evidence. The prosecutor also instructs them on issues of law, admissibility, weight of evidence and proper procedure.

After the prosecutor presents evidence, the grand jury decides if there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. The grand jury members then decide if there is enough evidence to indict the case and move it forward.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty has come under fire by the attorneys representing the Tamir Rice family for the way the grand jury investigation has been handled.

McGinty has always maintained that he has been transparent throughout the course of the investigation.