Grand juries are an integral part of our system of law dating back to the Assize of Clarendon of 1166 and Magna Carta (1215). They arrived in America with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635 and are part of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees them at the federal level. .
California codified grand-jury law in 1872 in the Penal code, where most grand jury law resides. Thereafter, California expanded the grand jury’s duties from “presentment and indictment” to include investigation of county government. Each county is must annually empanel a grand jury of a specified number; in Nevada, the Civil Grand Jury has 19 members.
Today, the grand jury’s principal role is to investigate all county agencies, special districts, schools, and other entities that receive public money. The grand jury chooses the issues to examine based on citizen-initiated complaints and other topics that the jury concludes need investigation. The Penal Code requires the jury to inspect all public prisons in the county annually. The jury may investigate the efficiency of all local government activity, audit financial records, and review all public records. Grand-jury deliberations are secret and privileged, and jurors take an oath to maintain confidentiality for life. Each grand jury must issue at least one report annually on significant investigations, making findings and recommendations to resolve deficiencies the jury has identified.
Grand Jury Functions
Local Government Performance
The Grand jury may examine all aspects of special districts, county, and city government to ensure that the county is being governed efficiently and that monies are being handled appropriately.
The grand jury receives complaints from citizens and reviews them to determine if the jury has jurisdiction and whether it should undertake an investigation.
Under certain, extremely rare, circumstances the Grand Jury holds hearings to determine whether evidence presented by the district attorney is of sufficient nature to warrant persons having to stand trial in court.
Requirements for a Grand Juror
- US citizen
- At least 18 years of age
- County resident for at least one year
- Read and write English
- Not currently serving on a trial jury
- Not currently an elected official
- Not a public agency board member
- Never convicted of a felony
Selection Process for a Grand Juror
- Submit an application
- Participate in an interview
- Attend orientation
- Final selection by the Court
- Be sworn by the Presiding Judge
The grand jury, a group of citizens appointed to investigate local government agencies. The grand jury may examine all aspects of county government (including special districts and school districts) to see that public monies are being handled judiciously and that an effective government is serving in the best interest of the people. The law authorizes the grand jury to audit financial expenditures and review operational practices, inquire into the conditions of jails and detention centers, and investigate written complaints from citizens. If the grand jury issues a report, it will include findings and recommendations for improvement or solutions.
As a juror you become familiar with the function and operation of all city and county agencies. The work is intellectually stimulating, rewarding, and provides great satisfaction when beneficial changes result.
- Reasonably good health;
- Open-minded to the views of others;
- Interest in community affairs;
- Have and me willing to spend time to attend meetings and to do independent research;
- Possessing investigative skills;
- Willing to do research and fact finding;
- Able to write and edit reports.
Prospective Grand Juror Qualifications:
- Be a citizen of the United States and 18 years or older;
- Be a resident of the State and of the County for one year immediately before being selected;
- Possess sufficient knowledge of the English language.
A person is not legally qualified to serve if any of the following apply:
- The person is serving as an elected public official;
- The person has been discharged as a Grand Juror;
- The person is serving as a trial juror in any California court;
- The person has been convicted of any felony or other high crime or malfeasance in office.
If you are civic-minded and want to give back to your community by collaborating with a diverse group of public-minded people
Grand jurors are change agents in their communities. They come from all walks of life, such as law enforcement, business, social services, local government, industry, and transportation. They bring a broad range of interests, talents and life experiences, and they share dedication to democratic ideals and willingness to devote their time and energies to matters of civic importance.
The jury’s full panel typically meets the first and third Tuesday of each month. In addition, committees meet once each week, generally on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Most committee work takes place during regular working hours.
The grand jury forms committees and sets its own schedule for interviews, investigations and meetings. Persons selected for service should plan to commit to a minimum of 20-30 hours per month for a period of one year (July 1 - June 30). Each juror typically serves on two committees.
Jury members receive $20 per meeting attendance at up to twelve full panel and committee meetings. They also receive reimbursement at the current federal mileage rate for mileage (one per day) to and from jury meetings and site visits.