CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (WXIA) -- A non-U.S.-citizen -- a woman who is a resident
alien and is legally in the U.S. -- served as member of a Bartow County
Grand Jury for most of last month.
During the April term of the Grand Jury, the woman helped indict U.S.
citizens, leading to their arrests on various criminal charges.
District Attorney Rosemary Greene said Wednesday that the woman was
kicked off of the Grand Jury at the end of April, based on a tip
received by the sheriff.
"The sheriff's office contacted me that they had received some
information that one of the Grand Jurors was not a U.S. citizen, the
Grand Juror was a resident alien," Greene said. "We were very lucky that
we caught it when we did. None of these cases went to trial. We don't
have guilty verdicts on something now that has a defective indictment."
Greene had to go back to the Grand Jury after the resident alien was
removed and take two days this week re-indicting more than 130 cases, at
a cost to the taxpayers of $1,540, which is the cost of paying the
remaining 22 Grand Jurors their $35 a day.
It used to be that jurors in Georgia were chosen from among registered voters. But state law changed in 2011, and now jurors are also chosen from
among registered drivers, in order to include a broader cross-section of
It's up to the courts to weed out prospective jurors who do not meet
the qualifications, such as being U.S. citizens, being residents of
the county where they are called to serve, and having no felony record.
But there are no background checks of jurors before they are sworn in. It's the honor system.
"That is the basis of our jury system," Greene said. "We have to rely
on people coming forward and telling he truth, telling us if they're
qualified. And it's a wonderful system. And it works 99 percent of the
time ... Our clerk and our judge went over all of the qualifications as
they're supposed to do to make sure that we had 23 people who were
qualified to serve as Grand Jurors. At no point in time did this
individual give any indication that they were not a United States
It's a felony if they lie, and the sheriff is investigating whether
to charge the woman. Her name and nationality have not been released to
the public, yet.
Greene said a transcript of the court session last month just before
the Grand Jury was sworn in indicates that the judge asked the jurors,
as a group, all of the required qualification questions.
"The judge goes through a list of the qualifications. The first
question that's asked is, 'Are you a United States citizen?'" and
Greene said that's when the woman should have verbally responded "No."