Cuyahoga County

Grand Jury Unit

The Grand Jury Unit investigates cases and reviews reports submitted by local, state, and federal law enforcement investigators alleging felony criminal activity. Cases with sufficient evidence are selected for presentation to one of four Cuyahoga County Grand Juries.

A Grand Jury is made up of 14 people selected from the public. The foreman for each Grand Jury is appointed by a judge from the Common Pleas Court. Each Grand Jury serves for four months and meets twice a week.

The Grand Jury Prosecutor determines the necessary witnesses and documents to present to the Grand Jury and instructs them on issues of law, admissibility and weight of evidence and proper procedure.

After the Prosecutor presents evidence, the Grand Jury decides if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and if there is a reasonable belief as to the identity of the person who committed the crime.

  • If the Grand Jury determines there is probable cause to indict on the requested charges, they will issue a “true-bill.” A true bill is the grand jury’s notation that a criminal charge should go before a jury for trial.
  • If the Grand Jury determines there is not probable cause or that there is not a reasonable belief as to the identity of the person who committed the crime, they will issue a “no-bill.”
  • The cases that are true bills receive indictments prepared by the Grand Jury Prosecutor that are signed by the grand jury foreman and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O'Malley.
  • These indictments are filed in the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts, thus beginning a formal criminal proceeding.
  • Grand Jury proceedings are not public. Indictments become public when they are filed in the Clerk's Office.

Learn more about how the Grand Jury works

Fox 8's Bill Shiel reported in July 2015 on how the Grand Jury works:

CLEVELAND - It is one of the most important - and most secretive - parts of our judicial system.

As such, few of us - except for people who have served on one - have any idea how a grand jury really works.

But now, as grand juries will soon make decisions on several controversial cases in Cleveland, including the deaths of two people at the hands of the police, the FOX 8 I-Team has been granted unprecedented access inside a grand jury room.

"If you don't trust the grand jury system," says Common Pleas Judge David Matia, "you're basically saying that you don't trust your neighbors to follow the law."

"The people who are hearing the evidence and voting are your neighbors," he continues, "and they take an oath to follow the law."

Read this story and watch video at


We represent the Prosecutor’s office in the arraignment room, where the defendants are informed of the charges against them and are given a bond amount. The prosecutor may object to bond amount recommendations when the amounts seem inappropriate for the charges in the indictment. The Grand Jury Prosecutor also requests no-contact orders with victims as a condition of bond when appropriate.

Cleveland Municipal Court, Bindover Proceedings

We represent the County Prosecutor’s Office in Cleveland Municipal Court by conducting probable cause hearings to determine if criminal cases initiated in the City of Cleveland should be sent to the grand jury. In some cases, the defendant will be referred to Drug Court for treatment.

Drug Court

We represent the Prosecutor’s Office in a cooperative program between the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County that provides education and treatment for first time, non-violent drug offenders. This program is for individuals charged with (non-trafficking) felony drug offenses of the third, fourth or fifth degree, as well as, any non-violent felony theft-related offense of the third, fourth or fifth degree where the offender is determined to be a drug dependent person.