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A grand jury is an arm of the court that is empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and to determine whether criminal charges should be brought. The "grand jury" may compel the production of documents and may compel the sworn testimony of witnesses to appear before it. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing. Grand juries perform both accusatory and investigatory functions. The investigatory functions of the grand jury include obtaining and reviewing documents and other evidence and hearing the sworn testimony of witnesses that appear before it. The grand jury's accusatory function is to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that one or more persons committed a certain offense within the venue of the district court. The "grand jury" in the United States is composed of 16 to 23 citizens. In Ireland, they also functioned as local government authorities. A grand jury is so named because traditionally it has a greater number of jurors than a trial jury. (via Freebase)