Last year, Lauderdale County doubled the number of grand jury sessions to six per year. This was primarily done to reduce the length of days that jurors have to serve. Prior to that, three sessions were held in the county yearly. The most recent grand jury was chosen Monday and recessed two days later on Wednesday.
"We had a couple of cases that we wanted to add to the list and we wanted to be sure that we had them ready," says District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell.
The grand jury in Lauderdale County is set to convene Feb. 11 for a one day session. Although there's now an increase in the number of grand jury sessions held each year, Mitchell says over the last four years there's been a decrease in the number of cases presented to them. Compared to 2008, last year 71 fewer cases were presented to Lauderdale County grand juries.
'So, I think we've just had some really bad crime lately with the armed robberies being committed by the young kids, who apparently are juveniles and it just makes it seem like right now is the worst that it has ever been,' said Mitchell. 'But the facts don't really show that.'
Mitchell says the type of crime a juvenile commits determines whether or not his or her case will be presented to a grand jury.
'If it's armed robbery and they're 13 and above they come to adult court,' said Mitchell. 'If it's not armed robbery, if it's a robbery or some other crime that is not involving a weapon, then it comes to us if the youth court judge certifies the person to be an adult.'
As for the cases that are being presented to the current grand jury, Mitchell says most are for theft and at least one involves murder.
Records show that in 2008, 849 cases were presented to grand juries in Lauderdale County. Last year, 778 were. In all, that's 71 fewer cases than four years prior. Grand juries determine whether or not there's enough evidence for a case to go to trial.