The Grand Jury is an independent body consisting of 23 members of the community, with 12 affirmative votes needed in order to return an indictment. The proceedings are private, but a transcript is made for use by the court, the Prosecutor's Office and an accused. A matter may appear before the Grand Jury if: the Speedy Trial Unit, following Central Judicial Processing (CJP) Phase I has referred the matter for presentation; the Pre-Indictment Court (PIC) Unit, following CJP Phase II has referred the matter for presentation; the PIC Unit, following a PIC conference has referred the matter for presentation; or the matter is presented by way of a direct presentation.
The Grand Jury Unit is supervised by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Julie Serfess. It is the responsibility of assistant prosecutor assigned to the Grand Jury Unit to review the cases and then present the witnesses and evidence to the Grand Jury. The assistant prosecutors must also impartially explain the law to the Grand Jury on the charge(s) which the accused faces. An accused may, or may not, choose to testify before the Grand Jury if the assistant prosecutor invites him/her to testify.
It is the duty of the Grand Jury to hear the evidence against an accused and decide if there is sufficient evidence to formally charge, or indict, the accused. After listening to a witnesses, viewing physical evidence, if any, and discussing the case, the Grand Jury can vote.
A True Bill, which formally charges the accused by way of a written document setting the charge(s), or indictment,
- a No Bill, which dismisses the charges, or
- a No Bill/Remand, which refers the case back to the municipal court on lesser charges.
If an accused is indicted, the assistant prosecutor prepares and signs the indictment that is filed with the court and provided to the accused. There are two assistant prosecutors who routinely present all non-special squad cases to the Grand Jury.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Julie Serfess can be reached at Jserfess@passaiccountynj.org