Where indictments are handed
A reporter approaches me on the floor of the paragraph factory and asks—having heard conflicting language—whether indictments are handed down or handed up. Immediately the gallery responds: “Across!” “Over!” “Under!” “Around and through!”
Never ask a public question in a newsroom.
A little research, and very little it was, disclosed a post on the Editingmonks blog from 2007: It quotes Webster’s New World Law Dictionary that indictments are handed up from the grand jury to the court, and decisions from the bench are handed down.
The blog also quotes the eminent Dr. Ink of the Poynter Institute.
It is also correct to say that grand juries return indictments.
Somewhat more soberly, Bryan Garner’s Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage says that decisions are handed down and that that grand jury decisions are traditionally handed up to a criminal court.
Mr. Garner says that references to a grand jury’s handing down a decision are incorrect, but, as Google will show you, such references are legion.
The safest course: Say that the grand jury indicted.