A grand jury, which can consist of 16 to 23 people, does not decide issues of guilt or punishment. Rather, it decides whether the government should initiate an indictment or criminal charges against a particular defendant. Grand juries are used in cases of serious felonies and can be held at both the state or federal levels.
A Democrat and Republican have introduced legislation that would reform Texas grand juries and require prosecutors to share evidence that could help defendants. State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat from Houston, and Lakeway Sen. Dawn Buckingham, a Republican, have filed similar bills in the House and Senate that they say would lead to fairer treatment of those accused of crimes.