Grand Jury to decide if evidence is enough

news-court-crime-stockHOUSTON – The Chickasaw County grand jury meets this week to consider evidence that could result in local residents being charged with a felony.

Evidence will be presented by the District Attorney Ben Creekmore and local law enforcement to a pool of grand jurors specially chosen for the task of determining if an indictment should be issued and a warrant issued for the person to be formally charged and requiring them to appear in court to answer those charges.

Grand jury business is conducted in utmost secrecy since many of those who could be indicted do not know they have been under investigation by local, state and sometimes even federal authorities. Asking a grand juror about what was discussed in chambers can result in jury tampering charges which is a felony.

The grand jury is the local body of the court that decides if there is enough evidence in a case to bring formal charges, usually felony charges.

And most people don’t realize the scope and authority of this body since they meet in secret and their names are rarely known.

The grand jury meets twice a year in the First Judicial District, which is Houston and another grand jury meets twice a year in the Second Judicial District which is Okolona. The Houston grand jury hears cases in crimes that are committed in the First Judicial District and the Okolona Grand Jury hears cases that occur in Okolona.

The First and Second district line is Chuquatonchee Creek.

Like all juries, names are pulled from the Chickasaw County voter roll and that list is culled to about 15 to 20 names. Those chosen are then called to grand jury duty.

The grand jury is run by Creekmore, who, working with local law enforcement, presents evidence of alleged crimes to jurors. If 12 jurors vote to issue a true bill, an indictment is entered by the Circuit Clerk, an arrest warrant is issued to the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department, the person is arrested and the case goes to court.

If the grand jury does not find evidence of a crime the case is no-billed. The case can be presented to another grand jury if additional evidence is uncovered by law enforcement.

The secret nature of the grand jury usually has them conduct their business in one day. That way once someone is indicted they don’t flee before deputies can make an arrest.”

Grand jurors also take an oath not to discuss the work of the grand jury for six months.

Most Chickasaw County’s cases deal with drugs, theft and assault.

In Chickasaw County up to 80 percent of the crime is drug-related and the Drug Court handles a lot of those cases.

 

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