Depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s Oklahoma Supreme Court hearing, a grand jury will be formed July 20 to investigate Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz and his office. (Sheriff’s Office attorneys are fighting against the effort, saying the form that petitioners collected more than 6,600 signatures on was improper.)
On April 2, when Eric Harris was shot and killed by Robert Bates, a reserve Tulsa County deputy, the eyes of the city, state and even nation turned to Tulsa.
So the attention paid by the public and the media to the signature gathering portion of the grand jury process was unprecedented. It’s not likely to go away if a grand jury is impaneled.
But how do grand juries work? When do they meet? How do they know what questions to ask? Over the past couple weeks, I’ve asked a number of people what questions they had about the grand jury process, and then submitted those questions to Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney John David Luton.
While Luton is not involved in this particular grand jury process (District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, who acts as a lawyer for the sheriff’s office, recused himself from the case, citing potential conflicts,) he has coordinated a number of them in the past.
Okmulgee County District Attorney Rob Barris was appointed by the attorney general’s office to serve as the legal adviser for any investigation into Glanz’s office.
Q: How do they determine who serves on the Grand Jury? Voter registration?
A: Driver’s license as selected by the electronic jury management system.
Q: When are they chosen?
A: After the order to convene a grand jury.
Q: Who appoints the jurors? Is it handled like a jury trial, where a large pool is whittled down, or are they specifically appointed by someone?
A: They are randomly selected by the Court Clerk’s office. The Judge conducts the jury selection with input from the legal adviser.
Q: How many jurors are there?
A: There are not to exceed 100 jurors summoned for grand jury duty. There are 12 jurors seated and three alternates selected also.
Q: How often are grand juries formed?
A: It just depends on when a petition is circulated and the requisite number of signatures is obtained. The last grand jury in Tulsa was convened in October 2013, to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by a former Owasso city official.
Q: How long does a grand jury serve?
A: The grand jury performs its duties as a separate and independent body, subject only to the natural supervisory powers of the Court.
Q: How often do the jurors meet?
A: The grand jury sets their own hours and decides when they will meet as may be most suitable to the early completion of their duties.
Q: Where do the jurors meet?
A: In a court room.
Q: How secretive are the jurors’ meetings? I imagine the meetings are closed to the public?
A: The work of the grand jury is private and closed to the public.
Q: After the jurors are finished, are they free to speak about what they saw and heard?
A: No, grand juries are not allowed to discuss testimony they hear, what was said or how any members voted.
Q: When the jurors meet, who is there with them? Are they in a room by themselves or is a prosecutor there with them?
A: They are there with the legal adviser (DA or ADA) only.
Q: Will they hear witness testimony? Who makes sure the witnesses appear? Who questions the witnesses?
A: Yes, they will hear witness testimony. Typically, the legal adviser (DA or ADA) will have an investigator that will coordinate the appearance of the witnesses. Typically, the legal adviser will begin the questioning of the witnesses and then the Grand Jurors can interject their own questions at any time.
Q: Does someone act as a defense attorney?
Q: What kind of documents do the jurors get to look at? How do they know what documents to ask for
A: The grand jury will look at any documents that they believe will be helpful in the investigatory process. The legal adviser will help the GJ with questions about what type of documents are available and how to obtain them.
Q: Is there a time frame the jurors need to be done by?
Q: Is the grand jury compensated for their time?
A: The same as other jurors, $20 per day plus mileage.
Q: Can the grand jury expand its scope beyond the areas of inquiry in the petition?
A: Yes. They can investigate anything in Tulsa County.
Q: A report is issued when the grand jury is finished. Who composes it? Who is the report given to?
A: Typically, the legal adviser helps the grand jury in drafting the final report. All grand jurors will sign the final report. The report is presented to the Judge who then reads it in open court.
Q: How many jurors need to agree before charges are presented or they request action? A simple majority? Do they have to be unanimous?
A: At least nine grand jurors for an indictment or an accusation.
Q: In this case, should the jurors decide that Sheriff Stanley Glanz should be removed from office, who do they make that recommendation to? What follows that recommendation?
A: The foreperson would present the accusation for removal in the form of a “True Bill” to the Judge in the presence of the other Grand Jurors. After the presentation of the accusation, the person against whom an accusation was brought would be given notice of the accusation.