The Grand Jury is a panel of eighteen (18) citizens randomly selected from local citizens who are summoned to report for jury duty. In Madison County, there are six terms of Grand Jury each year. Each ‘term’ serves two one-week sessions, over a two month period.
Jonathon Hubbert, Assistant District Attorney
Susan Chapman, Legal Assistant to Grand Jury
Bonny Van Tassel, Grand Jury Clerk
What the Grand Jury does
The Grand Jury hears criminal cases brought by law enforcement agencies such as the Huntsville Police Department, the Madison County Sheriff's Department, the Alabama State Troopers, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Madison Police Department and the police departments from the other municipalities across Madison County. The panel does not decide guilt or innocence. They hear a small portion of each case to determine if there is probable cause for an indictment or formal legal charge.
How does a case come before the Grand Jury
After a defendant is arrested and has been bound over through District Court, the case is presented to Grand Jury for consideration. Cases can also come to Grand Jury as part of a direct investigation from a law enforcement agency, prior to an arrest warrant being issued.
What a "true bill", or indictment, means
At the end of each week of service, the Grand Jury issues indictments, or true bills, on all cases for which they have found probable cause exists.
What a "no bill" means
For those cases where the Grand Jury does not find probable cause, the panel issues no bills.
Grand Jury proceedings are secret and confidential
The work of the Grand Jury is done in secret and is kept secret, to protect the innocent who may be accused, to encourage witnesses to speak freely and truthfully without fear, and to prevent those persons who have committed criminal acts or whose indictment may be contemplated from fleeing from the due administration of justice. Only prosecutors presenting the cases and their witnesses are allowed in the Grand Jury room. Except in very unusual circumstances, defendants do not testify before the Grand Jury. Discussing anything about Grand Jury proceedings before that information is filed with the circuit clerk's office, is a criminal offense.