The selection process for the Civil Grand Jury begins in March of every year and 19 names, plus 4 alternatives are announced as Grand Jurors at the beginning of July; this year two Turlockers made the list, Lois A. Pinkney and Thomas C. Truax.
The selection of the Civil Grand Jury is a process directed by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court and involves names which have been randomly selected from the master jury pool and names which have been submitted by community leaders. Every person who responds in the affirmative that he or she wants to serve is afforded an interview with the Presiding Judge. There can be up ten holdovers from the previous Grand Jury to continue to serve on the next Grand Jury. Past practice has been 1-4 holdovers. The court seeks to select a cross section of the community based on geographical location, skills, age, sex, and ethnic background. Out of those interviewed, the Judge selects 30 names. On July 1st, 19 names, plus 4 alternates are drawn to become the new Civil Grand Jury. Civil Grand Jurors volunteer to serve for one fiscal year.
The Civil Grand Jury is empowered to investigate complaints from citizens, civic groups, government employees and others about the operations of county and city governments and the conduct of their officers and employees. The Civil Grand Jury may also investigate complaints within special districts and school districts.
The Grand Jury is the guardian of public trust in local government. This is known as the "Civil Watchdog" function. The Grand Jury exists to assure honest, efficient government. Criminal indictments are now handled solely by the Criminal Grand Jury. The creation of a two-grand-jury system enables the Civil Grand Jury more time to focus on its oversight function.
Certain functions of the Grand Jury are mandated by law, such as examining the condition of the detention facilities within the county. The Grand Jury is mandated to audit the books, records and accounts of county offices and to contract for an outside auditor to conduct such audits. The current operations of the Civil and Criminal Grand Jury are governed by the Penal Code beginning at 888 through 939.91.
Committees are formed to study citizen complaints. The Grand Jury itself also selects additional areas that it wishes to study/investigate. At the end of the fiscal term on June 30th, the Grand Jury publishes its findings, conclusions and recommendations in a Final Report which is distributed to public officials, libraries and the press. Agencies or departments, which are the subjects of investigations, are required to respond to the findings and recommendations within 90 days.
Grand Juries have no jurisdiction in matters under litigation. The Grand Jury is limited to studying procedures or systems.
Grand Jury Complaint Forms may be obtained from the office. Complaints presented in the form of a letter will be accepted, but it is desirous to use the form whenever possible.