Grand Jury and Walter Fitzpatrick

Walter Fitzpatrick attended a court meeting on December 7, 2011, where he claims he observed the Judge manually selecting the jurors. The Grand Juries impaneled were for the Jan-Dec 2012 time period. Walt believed that he was witnessing fraud by the court and removed some documents from the court room. However, I believe that Walt may have been wrong about the process he observed, which, as I will show, appears to match the processes outlined in the Tennessee Code and the Rules of the Court.

You have just been impaneled to serve on the Grand Jury for the Criminal Court of Monroe County.  Your term of service will be for the months of January thru December 2012.

Source: Chief Court Clerk Martha Cook’s letter to Grand Jurors

Martha Cook’s letter also explains what a Grand Jury is. “It’s a body of 36 citizens chosen from the community, divided into two panels of 18, and headed by a foreman appointed by the Criminal Court Judge. The two panels having been seated as twelve or thirteen of the eighteen will alternate monthly hearing evidence of the alleged crime.”

Note that the Grand Jury’s foreman is NOT impaneled from the Jury Pool, contrary to the confusion of some.

“…the foreman of the grand jury is not ‘impaneled’ from the ‘summoned’ members of the ‘jury pool.’ See Tenn Code Ann. §§ 22-2-306, -307, and -310. The foreperson is ‘appoint[ed]’ by the trial court. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 6(g)(1). As such, section 314, by its terms, does not apply to the appointment process of the grand jury foreperson.”

also

“The judge can pick the foreperson from wherever they choose,” Cook said. “And they serve for two years unlike the other jurors.” –

What Walt may not have understood is that the jurors had already been selected and that the Judge was summoning the jurors to be impaneled. The selection of the names for the jury pool had been selected the Monday preceding the hearing.

The Judge was also observed writing on the selection slips, and as the images provided by the Post and Email show, the only writing appears to be the determination of Panel 1 or Panel 2, as there were two Grand Juries impaneled.

Judge Amy Reedy is the criminal judge for Monroe County. Given that she has been accused by Walter Fitzpatrick of improperly selecting the Grand Jury, it is time to look in more detail at the actual process.

16-2-510.  Holding of court — Terms abolished — Grand juries.

(c) New grand juries shall be impaneled at least twice a year at times selected by the presiding judge of the district. The presiding judge within each district shall be responsible for designating the foreperson and for impaneling, charging and receiving the report of the grand jury, but may designate another judge to perform these responsibilities. In those districts in which there is a criminal court judge or judges, the criminal court judge or judges shall perform the duties pertaining to the grand jury assigned to the presiding judge by this subsection (c).

So the steps are as follows selection for jury list, selection for jury pool, summoning and impaneling.

Step 1: Jury selection:

22-2-302.  Alternate non-automated jury selection method.

In the event that any county of this state cannot obtain and select names for jury selection by automated means pursuant to § 22-2-301, the county may utilize the alternate jury selection method set out in this section.

(1) The jury box, a suitable and well-bound book in which to record the jury list and any necessary stationery shall be purchased by the jury coordinator and paid for by the county, and the jury coordinator shall be the custodian of these items. Neither the book nor the box shall be opened except as provided in this part.

(2)(A) The jury coordinator and the circuit court clerk, or the clerk’s deputy if the circuit court clerk serves as the jury coordinator, referred to as “witness” in this part, shall meet in the circuit court clerk’s office at a time fixed by the presiding judge of the judicial district to select the names of prospective jurors to serve in the courts of the county. The names, which shall constitute the jury list, shall be selected randomly from licensed driver records or lists, tax records, or other available and reliable sources. The jury coordinator may utilize a single source or any combination of sources. The jury coordinator is prohibited from using the permanent voter registration records as a source to compile the jury list.

(B) The number of names to be placed on the jury list shall be determined by the presiding judge of the judicial district.

(C) The jury coordinator and the circuit court clerk, or the clerk’s deputy if the circuit court clerk serves as the jury coordinator, shall repeat this procedure as often as reasonably necessary, but in no event may a list be retained for more than two (2) years. Prior to repeating this procedure and compiling a new jury list, no person may add to or take from the existing list, except as provided in this part.

(3)(A) At the top of each page of the well-bound book shall be written or printed the words, “Jury list for ___________________ County.” Following these words and preceding the list of names shall be written these words, “Jury List Selected by _________________, Jury Coordinator for ___________________ County, on the _____ day of __________, _____.”

(B) Immediately following this heading shall be recorded the list of jurors selected, placing one (1) name on each line, arranging the names in alphabetical order and numbering them consecutively, beginning with No. 1.

(C) At the end of the list shall be written and signed by the jury coordinator and the witness the following: “I, _________________, Jury Coordinator for ___________________ County, and _________________, (witness) certify that the foregoing is the jury list selected by us for the next _____ year(s)/month(s)/days for the county. This the _____ day of __________, _____.”

(4)(A) The names on the list, preceded by the original number thereof, shall be written by the jury coordinator on tickets or cards of paper uniform in size, and placed in the jury box in the presence of the witness, the box to be kept securely locked and under seal, and it shall not be unlocked or the seal broken except by the order of and in the presence of the jury coordinator and a witness, and then only for the purpose of refilling the box or drawing from the box the names of jurors for jury service, or by order of a judge holding court as provided in this part.

(B) The jury book shall be kept in secret by the jury coordinator under lock and key and no one shall be allowed to inspect the jury book except the presiding judge of the judicial district or the jury coordinator.

Step 2: Selection of the Jury Pool

22-2-305.  Selection of names for jury pool by alternate manual means.

In the event that any county of this state cannot obtain and select names for the jury pool by automated means pursuant to § 22-2-304, the county may utilize the alternate jury selection method set out in this section.

(1) On Monday, two (2) weeks before each jury service term, the jury coordinator shall unlock the jury box and break the seal of the jury box, and after well shaking the jury box, cause to be drawn from the jury box, in the presence of the witness, that number of names that the presiding judge of the judicial district has directed to be drawn, to constitute the jury pool for the jury service term. If the Monday two (2) weeks before the jury service term begins is a legal holiday, the jury coordinator may perform this function on the following business day.

(2) In the event the name is drawn of a person known by the jury coordinator to no longer be qualified or competent to serve pursuant to § 22-1-101 or § 22-1-102, the name shall be put aside and not used, and another name shall be drawn instead. Should the jury coordinator, when drawing names from the jury box, overlook the names of persons who are incompetent or unqualified to serve, the presiding judge of the judicial district and the judge presiding over a trial in which those persons serve as jury panel members each shall have the authority to excuse those persons from jury service and direct that their names be withdrawn from the jury pool.

(3)  (A) Not more than five (5) days before the jury service term and not later than the first day of the jury service term, the jury coordinator and witness shall certify that the names drawn constitute the jury pool for the term by following the procedures in subdivision (3)(B).

(B) When the required number of names have been drawn for the jury pool, the original tickets or cards on which they have been written shall be placed in an envelope and with the the original tickets or cards shall be enclosed a report prepared and signed by the jury coordinator and witness, a copy of which shall be retained by the jury coordinator for use under the provisions of this chapter, substantially as follows:

 Click here to view form

(C) The jury coordinator shall then seal the envelope containing the coordinator’s report and the original tickets or cards, address the envelope to the presiding judge of the judicial district, write the judge’s name across the sealing of the envelope, and deliver the envelope to the judge at the opening of the jury service term.

And

Step 3: Grand Jury Selection

Rule 6: The Grand Jury.

(a) Formation of the Grand Jury.

(1) Formation at a Regular Term. On the first day of each term of court at which a grand jury is required to be impaneled, the judge of the court authorized by law to charge the grand jury and to receive its report shall direct the names of all the qualified jurors in attendance for the criminal courts of the county to be written on separate slips of paper and placed in a box or other suitable receptacle and drawn out by the judge in open court. The foreperson and the twelve qualified jurors whose names are first drawn constitute the grand jury for the term and shall attend the court until dismissed by the judge or until the next term.

As Martha Cook had explained so carefully:

There are two grand jury panels chosen in December and they rotate months, meaning each panel only hears six months’ worth of cases, though the foreperson oversees each panel.

“We picked 20 for each panel this past December,” Cook said. “That allows us plenty of people to choose from in case somebody’s sick or can’t make it in for any other reason.”

Grand jurors aren’t special and are picked from the same group of people as the other jurors.

“When you get called in,” Cook said, “if you’re at the front, you’ll probably be on the grand jury.”

SourceAdvocate and Democrat

22-2-311.  Jury coordinator’s report in first day’s minutes — Investigation of irregularities.

(a) At the beginning of the jury service term, the presiding judge of a judicial district that utilizes the manual method of jury selection shall compare the jury coordinator’s report with the original tickets or cards contained in the sealed envelope. If they correspond, they shall constitute the jury pool for the jury service term, and the report shall be spread on record in the caption of the first day’s minutes. Absent any identifiable irregularities in the jury selection process, the presiding judge of a judicial district that utilizes the automated method of jury selection likewise shall spread the jury coordinator’s report on the first day’s minutes, and the names listed in the report shall constitute the jury pool for the jury service term. Nothing in this subsection (a) is intended to prevent a judge or jury coordinator from subsequently excusing, disqualifying, postponing the service of or otherwise discharging a member of the jury pool in a manner consistent with this title.

What Walt observed seems to be exactly as spelled out by the Tennessee Statutes.

See also Opinion of the Attorney General 10-125