I assume members of a grand jury are not just randomly selected from the population.

In a case involving racism, for example, the race of the jury members is certainly relevant.

In a case about a member of a minority, random selection would usually not choose a minority person by definition

Even in cases that are not about race-related questions at all, the race distribution on the jury may be critical, as shown in the example of the police shooting involving Breonna Taylor - but that seems to be an independent question.

How are the members of a grand jury chosen? What is the strategy, or the ideas it is based on?

3 Answers 3


Your assumption is wrong

Grand juries are selected at random from citizens residing in the relevant district.

For Kentucky specifically:

The Administrative Office of the Courts compiles a county-by-county master list of prospective jurors for the entire state. The master list includes all people filing a Kentucky resident individual tax return, in addition to registered voters and licensed drivers over the age of 18.

So, the random selection pool is limited to taxpayers, voters and drivers but selection from that pool is random. Further,

To qualify for jury service, a person must:

-Be 18 years of age or older.

-Be a United States citizen.

-Be a resident of the county in which the case is to be tried.

-Be able to speak and understand English.

-Not have been convicted of a felony, unless pardoned or had his or her civil rights restored by the governor or other authorized person of the jurisdiction in which he or she was convicted.

-Not be currently under indictment.

-Not have served on a jury within the past 24 months.

  • That's for federal grand juries; the Breonna Taylor case was before a Kentucky state grand jury, AFAIK. Sep 26, 2020 at 0:23
  • @DaleM the Kentuky link is broken. It looks malformed. Can you, please, fix?
    – grovkin
    Sep 26, 2020 at 7:36
  • Add that several courts have repeatedly decided that an all white or all black (petit) jury is breaking the law.
    – Trish
    Sep 26, 2020 at 7:47

In Kentucky, there is no strategy. All juries are drawn at random from a list of qualified prospective jurors. The grand jury might hear more than one case: unlike petit juries, they are not limited to a single issue (potential case).

  • This could really use a reference.
    – grovkin
    Sep 26, 2020 at 7:37

With petit juries, (which is what non-grand juries are called), there is a process called "voir dire" during which both sides can remove prospective jurors in two ways: they can challenge prospective jurors for cause, or they can use what are called "peremptory challenges". To have a prospective juror dismissed for cause, a party has to convince the judge that the prospective juror would not be able to fairly judge the case. A peremptory challenge can be used without any justification. Neither type of dismissal can be done on the basis of race, but that's difficult to enforce in the case of peremptory challenge, as a party is free to give any non-race reason they feel like, regardless of how relevant.

When it comes to grand juries, I found conflicting information.

The Legal dictionary says:

Jurors responding to the grand jury summons are randomly called and put through the voir dire selection process in which the attorneys for the case question prospective jurors

However, it also says:

The accused has no right to present his case, and in many cases is not even made aware the hearing is taking place.

If the accused is not aware of the hearing, it would seem to follow that they would not participate in voir dire, so this seems that the conclusion is that only the prosecution participates in voir dire.

On the other hand, houmatoday.com says:

There is no voir dire

So either there is no voir dire, in which case no prospective jurors are dismissed, for race or any other reason, or there is voir dire, in which they can be dismissed, but not on the basis of their race.

If commenters clarify this issue, I will edit accordingly, but the answer to the main question is the same either way.


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