Regular Grand Jury Says Jurors Should Be Vetted

Monday, February 12, 2018

The report of the Regular Hamilton County Grand Jury says jurors should be better vetted prior to being accepted.


The report says some jurors agree to serve, then say they have to drop out prior to the end of their term.


Here is the full report:


The Honorable Don Poole

Judge, Criminal Court, Division III Hamilton  County, Tennessee

Judge Poole:

Enlightening, civic duty, honor, interesting, learning experience, enjoyable,

Eye- opener, and fascinating is how this Grand Jury described their service when asked to use just one word or phrase. They would all agree that it was an education into the criminal justice system and were all surprised by the high number of cases that come through the Grand Jury and most disturbing to them, the revolving door/repeat offender aspect of it.


It came as no surprise to me that many of them were impressed with the professionalism, knowledge and compassion shown by Law Enforcement as they presented their cases.


They were all glad to learn about Drug Court and Mental Health Court. After four months of service you quickly realize that substance abuse and mental health are at the root of most cases.


 As part of their service, they visited the facilities of Silverdale CCA, Hamilton County Jail, Juvenile Detention and Courts.


This jury was charged with reporting on Hamilton County Jail and Juvenile Detention.


Below are some thoughts of juror on their tour:

I found the Hamilton County Jail to be very adequate. The personnel are extremely professional and knowledgeable. Although the facility is dated, it appears that it has been properly maintained and updated as best it can be. It appears that the inmates are treated with respect and are provided the basic necessities. If improvements are made in the future, the safety of the staff and inmates should be given top priority.


Below are some thoughts of juror on their tour:

I was impressed with the judge taking the amount of time he did to educate us and answer questions. I can tell he has a real compassion for his mission, even though he feels obvious disappointment for those that continue through the criminal justice system. The officer that conducted the tours was knowledgeable and professional. The teacher had an apparent care for the education of the children. The kitchen facility and especially the food preparer were very impressive, with a strong desire to make sure that the children receive nutritious food while in their care.


I was disappointed with the condition of the holding cells. A bright coat of paint would go a long way in enhancing the moods of these rooms, especially since the mission and purpose of juvenile detention is not "punishment".


I would recommend that funds be allocated for a current GED software program, as educated citizens will have a greater propensity to be productive vs. continuing a life "in the system".


(NOTE: It has been stated in many of my reports that Mr. Weaver has requested many times when I have asked if he had a "wish list" that he needs the updated GED software.)


Grand Jury is truly a "crash course" education in the criminal justice  system. This is further enhanced by the opportunities to meet with and hear from judges, ADA's and law enforcement  officers. Foreperson DeAnna Anderson and ADA Bill West made the experience enjoyable, despite the sometimes disturbing nature of the cases we had to hear and provide indictments for. Both the foreperson and the ADA were very open to questions and discussion, while DeAnna kept us on task and on a schedule.

I am surprised that Grand Juror's are not vetted in any way. Understanding the purpose of the Grand Jury, this should be carefully approached. I believe vetting should be limited to scheduling/logistics and willingness to serve.


(NOTE: the jurors  see first hand my frustrations dealing with jurors that are selected and say they are willing to serve, but forget to add in there that there is an issue in their personal life that will cause some kind of conflict before the four month term ends. I do believe that we must go to vetting the jurors during the selection process.)


During their term they heard 462 cases. They came together and took serious the charge, as well as the education they were given, and made the decisions they felt necessary in these cases.


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