History of grand jury system marked by debate

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Grand jury selection has long been debated in the U.S., since the grand jury’s early roots in England and as the American colonies wrestled with creating their own justice system apart from the royal courts.

The first formal grand jury in the U.S. was established in Massachusetts in 1635 and, by 1683, was in some form established in all of the colonies, according to Marianne Jameson in a brief historical summary prepared for the California Grand Jurors Association in October 2004.

The U.S. Constitution, written in 1787, did not make reference to grand juries specifically.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution addressed the issue: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger … .”...

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