GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS RESUME IN DEKALB COUNTY
December 3, 2020
District Attorney Sherry Boston Prioritizes Safety While Moving Justice Forward
Decatur, Ga. – DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston is pleased to announce that Grand Jury proceedings have safely resumed in the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit under a modified process that limits possible exposure to COVID-19 while allowing the criminal justice process to move forward.
Due to public health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19, Grand Jury proceedings were suspended between March and October 2020 per state and county judicial orders. DA Boston’s team worked for months to develop new processes that would allow Grand Jury proceedings to resume, while prioritizing the safety and security of potential grand jurors, witnesses, staff, and members of the judiciary.
“I am so pleased that we, along with our Courthouse partners, have been able to resume Grand Jury operations,” said DA Boston. “Our goal is to keep our staff and grand jurors as safe as possible while also resuming a critical step in our criminal justice process. Defendants, victims and the community alike need our process to be working, and resuming Grand Jury is a necessary step in cases moving forward.”
DA Boston’s team, with assistance from DeKalb County IT, Superior Court and Jury Management, has made provisions to allow prospective grand jurors to appear virtually for the selection process in order to limit the number of people who need to report in person.
Traditional in-person selection is still in place for those who prefer not to appear virtually. This process has been relocated to a larger space and staggered to include both morning and afternoon sessions that allow for smaller groups of no more than 33 people, socially-distanced. Health screenings are required before entering the building.
Once grand jurors are selected and impaneled, Grand Jury proceedings now take place in a building adjacent to the Courthouse. The new location allows grand jurors to sit at individual tables spaced six feet apart. Health screenings are required before entering the building.
A mask is required at all times during in-person selection and while completing any Grand Jury responsibilities. Masks are provided, if needed.
Grand juror selection for the November/December term occurred in early November, and a Grand Jury was impaneled on November 9, 2020. The new process allows for the selection of two complete panels of grand jurors, as opposed to one. If an exposure occurs, the second panel may step in with minimal interruption to overall Grand Jury operation.
DeKalb County Facilities Management staff have been working hard to maintain a safe, clean, and healthy environment for essential workers who have been required to report to work daily, and continue to do so for both employees and the public as judicial operations resume.
Grand Jury Overview
The Grand Jury is comprised of 16 to 23 citizens who are impaneled for one term of court. DeKalb County Superior Court has a two-month term of court. During that term, the Grand Jury will generally convene two days out of each week for an average of 16 days per term.