The Grand jury in the administration of justice : the case of Harris County, Texas



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The composition and outputs of Harris County grand juries was examined to determine the extent to which minorities, females, the young and the poor participated between 1969-1975 and the impact of such participation on grand jury performance. Minorities, females, those under 35, and lower income individuals were excluded from participation over the six-year period to a statistically significant degree, with grand jurors reflecting the demographic characteristics of the grand jury commissioners who recruited them. The number of cases heard tended to increase dramatically over time, with grand juries returning significantly more cases during each successive month of the three month term. The composition of a grand jury was found to have an important influence on its propensity to return no bills. Those grand juries with high representation of low income individuals returned the lowest proportion of no bills, while those-with the most heterogeneous income representation returned the highest proportion of no bills. In sum, this thesis presents evidence that the demographic composition of Harris County grand juries does not represent a crosssection of the-adult population and that demographic composition does effect the performance of grand juries in the creation and administration of criminal justice policy.