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For the Northern District of Illinois
Eastern Division




The purpose of this handbook is to provide guidance and answers to the new grand jury foreperson and deputy foreperson. Hopefully, it will make your new leadership role easier to manage and understand. The information contained herein will not simply be a duplication of that contained in the "Handbook for Grand Jurors", which is an attempt to explain grand jury duty and it's inherent responsibilities and duties in more general terms. This handbook will be more technical in nature concerning the day to day aspects of managing a grand jury.


A grand jury is a group of 16-23 individuals drawn at random from the citizen’s of this district. They are impaneled by order of the Chief Judge of this Court. Their role as an independent body is to inquire into alleged violations of the law to ascertain whether the evidence presented by the government is sufficient to warrant a trial by a petit jury or judge. The grand jury has broad investigative authority due its ability to compel testimony, to order the production of documents and its power to indict.

The grand jury works with the U.S. Attorney’s office, but is not controlled by that office. Authorization must be sought from the grand jury upon impanelment for the issuance of subpoenas in the grand jury’s name. This authorization should be in writing, voted on by the members of the grand jury and made part of the official record of the grand jury. The scope of the authorization should be discussed with the grand jury prior to the vote. Although an investigative agent assigned to the case(s) will ordinarily serve the subpoenas, the Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the case(s) usually drafts and/or approves them.


It is the responsibility of each grand juror to maintain the secrecy of the grand jury’s proceedings. In essence, that means that grand jurors should discuss grand jury matters only within the grand jury’s meeting room. As foreperson, you should be especially vigilant to insure that grand jurors do not discuss grand jury matters in the grand jury reception area or in the corridors and elevators of the courthouse. Feel free to remind grand jurors of the dangers of being overheard by others, or, if you feel it appropriate, consult with the Jury Administrator.

As the Chief Judge instructed you, the secrecy obligation not only applies during your service as a grand juror, but afterwards, as well. If asked in your capacity as foreperson, you should advise the other grand jurors that they can only be released from their permanent obligation to keep the grand jury’s proceedings secret by order of a federal judge.


The foreperson and deputy foreperson are selected by the Chief Judge of this Court. The deputy foreperson replaces the foreperson only in his or her absence. The foreperson serves as manager of the group and plays an important role in keeping the panel organized, efficient and well informed.


This position is designated by the foreperson either by a volunteer or a vote of the group. The secretary’s duties are assigned by the foreperson. They may include only the following:

1. Completion of the docket book
2. Ascertaining whether each juror has signed in.
3. Completion of the grand jury utilization sheet.


One of the foreperson's first and most important roles is to make sure that there are at least 16 grand jurors in attendance at each meeting. Although each grand jury is made up of 23 members, without 16, even for a moment, no business can be conducted. There are several procedures that will help you with this task. First, as is explained in each initial orientation, make sure that each member informs you when they have future plans to be absent. Examples of this type of absence would be vacation plans, unchangeable medical appointments and emergency situations at work. It is each jurors responsibility to report these plans to you. It is your responsibility to record them on the provided "scheduling calendar". When a jury member approaches you regarding an absence, look at this as a request and not an automatic excuse. Review your calendar each week with the entire group and discuss the number of absences that are planned for the near and distant future. This procedure will allow both you, the other grand jurors and the jury staff to know how many jurors will be off on any given meeting day and allow the group to assess future plans. Take great care in allowing too many jurors off on any particular day as last minute emergencies do occur and should be considered in your planning. (No more than three pre-excused absences is a good rule of thumb.) If it appears that you will not have a quorum on any particular meeting day you must inform the Jury Administrator immediately.

The jury department counsels each grand jury panel when they are impaneled that they must call their foreperson for those days that they can not come in. If the juror knows in advance, they should inform you at their earliest possible convenience. Consequently, each grand juror should have the foreperson's and deputy's telephone numbers so they may call to report absences. If the jury member can not reach you or your deputy, they are instructed to call the jury department's number, 312-435-5684 to report last minute absences. You should counsel your members that last minute absences should be avoided if at all possible.

If a member does not inform you or the jury department of their absence in advance, they will be sent a letter from the jury office informing them that they missed a session. They are instructed to call our office immediately to inform us of any problem they may be encountering which keeps them from diligent service. The flag that sets this process in motion is the sign-in sheet. If there is no signature or "excused" and your initials or ours, the letter will be mailed the following day.

Signing in each meeting day is critical since this is the only way the jury department will know who is in attendance. The sign-in sheet is given to the jury department the morning after the previous day's session. If a juror has not signed in, they will not be paid for that day. Backtracking is not impossible but usually difficult. Also, if a juror leaves early or arrives late without the pre-approval of the foreperson, the foreperson has the authority to instruct the jury department to pay that juror for only one half day or $20.00. This should be noted on the sign-in sheet as well as any change of addresses.

It should also be emphasized by you that each juror report in a timely manner both in the morning and upon their return from the lunch break. If, after a warning from you, a particular juror is consistently tardy, please report this to the Jury Administrator so that further action may be taken.


At some point during the term a juror may seek permanent excuse from the grand jury panel. The proper procedure is as follows:

1. The Jury Administrator should be notified by the foreperson that a juror is requesting to be excused.

2. A letter from the grand jury member should be submitted to the Chief Judge requesting to be excused and the reason(s) why. If the reason pertains to a medical problem, a doctor's statement must be provided. If the excuse is sought due to employment problems, a letter from the employer should be submitted at the same time.

3. The letter(s) will be forwarded to the Chief Judge for his or her review. The judge may ask to speak to the juror prior to making a decision. The juror will be expected to continue to attend all grand jury sessions until they receive approval for their permanent excuse, usually by mail, except in cases of dire medical emergency.

4. Except in cases of medical emergency, it is likely that the juror will not be excused until the next alternate grand juror replacement can be notified and scheduled to appear.


When an original grand jury member is excused from further service by the Chief Judge, the next alternate juror is contacted from the list created on impanelment day. Generally, the Court will allow no juror to be permanently excused until the replacing alternate has been contacted and will appear at the next meeting so that quorum problems do not arise. The exception to that rule would be a medical emergency. The jury department will notify you on the sign-in sheet that a new juror will be joining the panel that day. Please make sure that the new juror still has the orientation materials and has read through them. If additional copies are required, please call the jury department at 435-5684. The foreperson should remind the new member about the procedures involved with the call-in system.


From time to time during the life of a grand jury certain problems inevitably arise such as jurors who fall asleep during a session, those who ask inappropriate questions, jurors who chronically arrive late in the morning or from lunch breaks, and those who hold side conversations during the presentations. All of these issues should be handled by the foreperson with the exception of the question issue. ( The Assistant U.S. Attorney presenting the particular case is responsible for supervising questions. Some districts require a juror to first ask the question through the Assistant, however we feel that jurors are responsible enough to make that decision in most circumstances. If a juror is unsure about whether a question is proper, he may first ask it of the Assistant U.S. Attorney. )

If you are unable to resolve any issue personally with a juror, you should report the problem to the Jury Administrator. He or she will decide if they can handle the problem or whether the Chief Judge is required to become involved.

It is the prerogative of the grand jury foreperson to recommend the dismissal of any grand jury member for due cause. A letter from you, addressed to the Chief Judge, should be delivered to the Jury Administrator. The letter should detail the reasons why you feel that dismissal is necessary, attempts you have made to remedy the problem(s) and how long the problem(s) has existed. The Chief Judge may wish to discuss the matter further with you prior to his or her decision. The juror will then be notified by mail.


If a grand jury member is concerned about serving on the grand jury and the foreperson or the Jury Administrator can not remedy the situation, the Chief Judge will discuss the issues with the juror. In order to request such a meeting, the juror should call the Jury Administrator who will arrange the appointment with the Judge. Depending on the issue, the Judge may request a meeting with the foreperson as well.


A grand jury consists of 23 members. There must be a quorum of at least 16 jurors present, one of whom must be the foreperson or deputy foreperson . If one of the two officers must be excused permanently, a recommendation for a replacement from the current panel members may be made to the Chief Judge by the current foreperson. If both officers happen to be absent a temporary foreperson must be sworn in prior to beginning any meeting. In either instance, please notify the grand jury coordinator as soon as possible so that the paperwork can be prepared immediately.

Do not, under any circumstances, conduct any business without an officer (foreperson or deputy) or less than 16 members present. It is your responsibility as foreperson to make sure a quorum is present at all times and that there are no unauthorized persons in the grand jury room. A failure to do so may invalidate an otherwise valid indictment.

The concurrence of 12 or more jurors is required for a "True Bill" to be returned. A hand or voice vote may be taken. If the government presents a proposed indictment for a vote and fewer than 12 jurors concur, then a "No Bill" is returned. Only the foreperson (or deputy in the foreperson’s absence) may sign any grand jury document relating to an indictment.


The foreperson (or deputy in his/her absence) is the only person authorized to swear in witnesses.

Oath Of A Witness Before The Grand Jury

You do solemnly swear that in the testimony you are about to give before this grand jury, you will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.

Oath Of An Interpreter Before The Grand Jury

You do solemnly swear that you will, to the best of your skill and ability, interpret the oath to be administered to this witness from the English language to the ___________ language and the questions to be propounded from the English language to the ___________ language, and answers from the ___________ language to the English language, so help you God.


Just as an impanelment order was required to summon the grand jury originally, at the end of the grand jury panel’s term (90 days for a regular panel and 18 months for a special panel) a discharge order will be prepared by the Justice Department and signed by the Chief Judge. This document officially ends the work of that particular grand jury.

As explained to you during the orientation process, if your grand jury panel has any cases which are technically incomplete at that time, they will likely be transferred to another sitting grand jury or a new one.

Shortly before the termination date of your panel, the Justice Department may discuss the possibility of extending the term of your panel. The only reason that this may be an important issue for you and the panel to consider is that you may be very close to the indictment phase of the investigation(s). At this point it may be counterproductive to re-present the case(s) to another grand jury panel. Consequently, if the Justice Department feels that a short extension of time would allow them to finish the case(s), normally within 90 days, AND a majority of the members agree, an extension order will be prepared for the Chief Judge’s signature.

The remaining members may not be expected to appear on a weekly basis, but only a few times during the extension period. The members will be provided a letter of explanation and scheduled meeting dates for their employers. The call-in system will continue to be at your disposal for final instructions.

Those jurors who do not wish to extend their service may be excused at the end of the term. No alternates will be provided, so as a result, there must be at least 16 members who wish to continue and hopefully more so that emergencies and vacations may be taken into consideration.


At some point during the panel’s term of service you may be approached by a member of the panel who feels that they know a named defendant, witness, agent, or Assistant. U.S. Attorney. Or, they may be familiar with the case in a personal way either through a work relationship or a personal one. This should be brought to the attention of the Assistant U.S. Attorney handling the investigation immediately.

Although it may not automatically exclude this grand juror from service, it is a decision for the Chief Judge to make. Upon being notified, the Assistant will discuss the matter with the Chief Judge who may wish to speak directly with the panel member. Based on the Chief Judge’s findings the juror may be excused from further service, excused from hearing evidence in that particular investigation only, or remain as a member during the presentation of that case.


Although the Court does allow grand jurors to take notes in this district, a few simple guidelines are required. All notes will be taken on court supplied notebooks. These notebooks are stored before and after each meeting in a suppressed area of the courthouse for safekeeping. All notebooks must be collected at the end of each day and during the lunch break. It is very important that notebooks not be removed from the grand jury room, except by authorized personnel. Consequently, a reminder from the foreperson at the end of each day’s session should insure that notebooks are not removed or left in the meeting room accidentally.

If a juror requires additional notebooks, they may be obtained from the grand jury coordinator in room 1625. Please make sure that the juror’s name and grand jury title are on each notebook. If more than one is used by a juror, the books should be numbered. When a notebook is no longer required during the sessions, it can be retired and kept in the suppressed area until the grand jury panel completes it’s business and is discharged. Each juror must let the jury department know when they no longer need a particular notebook. This can be accomplished by writing on the face of the notebook with a large black marker "NO LONGER REQUIRED" and juror’s signature.

If a notebook has been retired, but is needed for future meetings the juror may simply ask for it. All notebooks are destroyed only upon the completion of the grand jury’s term.


If at any time it appears that you do not have a quorum, report the situation and who is unaccounted for to the grand jury coordinator immediately. This situation occurs rarely and must be avoided if at all possible, but it is usually caused by unexpected absences in the morning. The grand jury coordinator will notify the jury department who will attempt to locate the missing juror(s) by telephone.

If the jury department is unsuccessful in locating the missing juror(s), the session will be canceled for the day. This decision is made by agreement between the Jury Administrator and the Chief of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. All grand jurors present will be paid for the entire day.

As you might imagine, this circumstance causes hardship on all involved including all grand jury members, assistants who have time and witnesses scheduled or have a time sensitive indictment pending, and employers who may have made substitution arrangements.

It is incumbent upon you as the foreperson to emphasize the importance of notifying you in advance of any preplanned absences or the jury department if an emergency arises on the day of the scheduled meeting.


Paychecks are issued once a month. The cut-off is the last meeting of the month, or the last Thursday which may begin the next month. Grand juries meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week. If, for example, the Thursday grand jury meets on May 1st, the cut-off will be on that date for the month of April. The paperwork is completed in the jury office on Friday and set to the fiscal department, which is in the courthouse. Within three business days the checks are returned to the jury department for mailing or personal distribution. If the grand jury panel is in the courthouse on the day we receive the checks, we will deliver them to the grand jury room. The same is true if a grand jury panel will be in within two days. Otherwise, the checks are mailed to the address we have on file. It is important that if a name and/ or address change is made during the term of service that the jury department is notified on the sign-in sheet.

If a juror’s check is lost or stolen, the juror must write a letter addressed to the Clerk of Court indicating the circumstances if known , the dates the juror served, and finally asking for the check to be replaced. This process can take as long as 8-12 weeks.

If a juror’s employer requires an interim statement proving his or her employee’s attendance, the grand jury coordinator is authorized to issue an attendance certification.

A 1099 form is issued only to those grand juror’s who make more than $600.00 for that reporting year. This figure does not include fees received for mileage. This form should be used in preparing your state and federal income taxes. If a juror does not reach the $600.00 mark, no 1099 form will be issued. This means that the juror should use their subvouchers included in their paychecks to calculate their additional income for tax purposes. If the employer requires a copy of the subvoucher, the original should be retained by the juror.

There are no statutes which require an employer to pay an employee for time spent on jury duty.

They are required by statute to allow an employee to serve and shall not " discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States." Any employer who violates the provisions of that section faces very serious penalties which will be enforced through the Justice Department and the district court.

If a juror feels that they have been terminated from their employment due to his or her jury service, the Jury Administrator should be notified immediately by telephone and in writing.

The daily fee for jurors is $40.00. After 45 days of actual service, a grand juror will receive $50.00 per day, an increase of $10.00.


During the initial orientation the court’s call-in system is fully explained. As a review for your reference, the system works as follows:

By 12 noon the day preceding your scheduled meeting day, the jury department receives a schedule from the Justice Department. This schedule is reviewed by the Jury Administrator and the Chief Judge to determine whether a full day is scheduled. At 12 noon the recording is placed on the call-in system advising grand jurors whether they will be required to report the following day including the reporting time. If a grand jury is canceled, the recording will furnish this information also. When a grand jury panel is canceled it simply means that it is canceled for that one session and will very likely meet the following week on the usual scheduled day.

Each grand juror is responsible for calling in to determine whether they will be meeting the following day. The call-in system accepts calls from the following area codes only: 312, 773, 630, 847, 815, and 708 (unless additional area codes are added to the district). If a juror is outside those areas codes, the juror can either have someone else within those codes call for them or they can call the jury department during business hours and after 12 noon at 312-435-5684. If a particular grand jury panel is canceled and a juror appears because they have neglected to call in advance, the juror will not be paid for that day.

In the event of serious weather conditions, flood or a mass transportation disruption, please advise the grand jurors to call the jury department before leaving their homes for the courthouse. The number is 312-435-5684. The jury department is usually open by 7:30 A.M.. They will take your telephone number and ask you to stay home until it is determined how many jury members have a problem appearing. If it appears that a quorum is unlikely, the session will be canceled and the jury department will call all jurors back for notification. If there is no answer in the jury department you may leave a message on voice-mail and your call will be returned.


The Court is very interested in making sure that the time of the grand jury is not wasted and that everything is being done to make your time with us as efficient and comfortable as possible. One of the ways we accomplish this is by the use of the utilization report. By comparing this report with the schedule provided by the Justice Department, the Jury Administrator can alert the Chief judge on any reoccurring scheduling problems.

When an Assistant U.S. Attorney schedules time he/she is responsible for that time whether they use it or not. If they cancel their time slot at the last minute, they must attempt to fill that slot or explain to the panel why that time was not used. Please keep in mind that last minute problems do arise, however the Court and the Justice Department try very hard to limit these problems.

From time to time the jury department may send out a Grand Jury Questionnaire for each member to complete. This may be scheduled into the grand jury’s day so that mailing back and forth is eliminated. These questionnaires are reviewed by the Chief judge, the Clerk of Court and the Jury Administrator. The purpose of the questionnaire is to gather information about each grand juror’s thoughts about their service in this Court. The questionnaire may be anonymous or if there are issues that require a response the juror’s name should appear on the questionnaire.


The court attempts to make your stay with us a comfortable one. One of the problems that we have not been able to solve is the ventilation system in the grand jury meeting rooms. As the warmer months progress the entire building becomes very warm in certain areas, so we suggest that jurors layer their clothing.

Supplying coffee in the morning has been somewhat problematic at times. At times, many members drink all of the coffee provided but on other days coffee remains at the end of the day. It is difficult to predict from week to week and group to group. There have been inquires about decaf coffee, tea and soup. Our budget, provided by you the taxpayer, is limited. We do the best that we can.


If you or any other grand jury member have any questions, comments or recommendations relating to your grand jury service feel free to contact the Jury Administrator.

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