"Let's spice up the proceedings. Who's down for trial by combat?"
Also, a grand jury doesn't serve on just one case. In Steve's state, everyone The Man wants to charge with a felony has to be formally indicted by a grand jury.
"We heard probably a thousand cases during the three-month term," he says. That makes it hard to screen for bias. "The screening to serve on a grand jury is a lot like being screened to serve on a regular jury, but the questions are more general," Steve says. For example, Steve told the judge who screened him that he was good friends with a detective and "if one of his cases came up, I'd pretty much believe whatever he said."
He was told to recuse himself in such a scenario, but being friendly with officers in general didn't disqualify him. Turns out Steve is an honest guy and did recuse himself when he felt his bias might affect an outcome, but he was essentially working on the honor system.
So point for Steve, but expecting people to excuse themselves from the topics they care most about is still a dumb system.
Fortunately, most of these cases were "rubber stamp formalities," because "prosecutors throw out the cases they can't win before they even get to a grand jury." However, one case came up during Steve's term where that wasn't an option. "When it comes to officer-involved shootings, they don't get a choice. All the evidence has to be presented to a grand jury, and the grand jury decides whether or not to indict."