Grand Jury

What Is the Grand Jury?

The Grand Jury is mandated to investigate and report on matters within the county, city, and other local agencies and ensure that they are performing properly and ethically.

The California Grand Jury is different in its function than that of a trial jury. The primary role of the Grand Jury is for a group of ordinary citizens to investigate local government agencies and ensure that they are performing properly and ethically. Lassen county impanels a Grand Jury of 19 members for a one-year term.

What Do Grand Juries Do?

The major function of a grand jury are divided into criminal indictments and civil investigations. There are three predominant functions.

  1. Civil “Watchdog” Responsibilities: The Grand Jury may examine all aspects of county and city government and special districts to ensure that the county is being governed honestly and efficiently and that county monies are being handled appropriately. The Grand Jury findings and recommendations are contained in a final report.
  2. Citizen Complaints: The Grand Jury receives many letters from citizens alleging mistreatment by officials, suspicions of misconduct, or governmental inefficiencies. Complaints received from citizens are acknowledged and investigated confidentially for their validity. If the situation warrants, and corrective action is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Jury, appropriate action is taken.
  3. Criminal Investigations: Under certain 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.

Qualifications to Serve

Pursuant to Penal Code section 893, prospective grand jurors must possess the following:

Must be:

  • A citizen of the United States
  • At least 18 years old
  • A Lassen County Resident for at least one year
  • Possess ordinary intelligence, sound judgment, and good character
  • Possess sufficient knowledge of the English language.

May not be:

  • Serving as a trial juror in any California court
  • Discharged as a grand juror at any California court within one year
  • Convicted of malfeasance in office or any felony or other high crime
  • An elected public official

Beyond the statutory requirements, the following are other desirable qualities in a grand juror:

  • Investigative skills and experience
  • Open minded
  • Works well with others
  • Interest in community affairs

Selection Process

The Superior Court may either contact potential grand jurors by way of a personal letter or may randomly issue jury summons for Lassen County residents to come in and learn about the Grand Jury. In the event jurors are summoned, the Presiding Judge will conduct a presentation on the function of the Grand Jury. That same day, individuals who are interested may choose to apply.

Individuals who are not contacted by or summoned by the court may still apply for the Grand Jury by completing and returning a Grand Jury Questionaire to the court. The court accepts applications/questionnaires year-round

Questionnaires are reviewed by the Judge and selected jurors will be contacted and asked to serve.

Orientation

An orientation and training program for grand jurors and alternates will be held in the month of August in Susanville. Attendance at this orientation is extremely valuable and highly encouraged.

Terms of Service

The Grand Jury sets the dates and times for their meetings. However, persons selected for Grand Jury service shall make a commitment to serve no less than two days per month for a period of one year (July 1 through June 30). The average time commitment can range from 4 to 20 hours a month with an increase in hours when preparing the Grand Jury report.

Serving as a Grand Juror can consume many hours. It is essential that all Civil Grand Jurors be in attendance each session. A full body of jurors is essential for productive discussion of issues and decision-making. Each prospective grand juror should sincerely and thoughtfully weigh in any and all family, personal, and business obligations before accepting this nomination.

Compensation

Grand Jurors are compensated fifteen dollars per day for each day's attendance as a grand juror. In addition, jurors are reimbursed for mileage.

Organization of the Grand Jury

The Civil Grand Jury is divided into committees, each of which concentrates its attention on the investigation of certain departments or functions of city or county government. All committees visit various county facilities, meet with county officials and develop recommendations for improvement.

Current Grandy Jury Committees include:

  • Audit and Finance
  • Local Government
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Fire and Safety Services
  • Human Services
  • Planning and Environment
  • Public Buildings and Properties

At the end of the Grand Jury's term, a final report is prepared with each committee's recommendations and sent to the County Board of Supervisors for response within ninety days. Copies of the full report are distributed to public officials, libraries, and the news media.

Submit a Complaint

You may submit a complaint to the Grand Jury by completing the complaint form. You are encouraged to attach additional information or documents that contribute to your concern.

After filling out the form, print the document, sign it attesting to the information, and mail to the address noted on the form. You may also turn in the form to the court. If brought to the court for delivery to the Grand Jury, the form must be in a sealed envelope.

All complaints submitted to the Grand Jury are treated confidentially

Superior Court of California, County of Lassen