About the Grand Jury

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The following is an excerpt from The California Grand Juror's Association (CGJA) page of general information.

What is a county grand jury and what does it do?
In California, the grand jury system consists of 58 separate grand juries—one in each county—that are convened on an annual basis by the Superior Court to carry out three functions:

  • Investigating and reporting on the operations of local government (which is known as the “watchdog “ function   a civil, rather than criminal function),
  • Issuing criminal indictments to require defendants to go to trial on felony charges, and
  • Investigating allegations of a public official’s corrupt or willful misconduct in office, and when warranted, filing an “accusation” against that official to remove him or her from office.  The accusation process is considered to be “quasi-criminal” in nature.

With regard to its watchdog authority, the grand jury is well suited to the effective investigation of local governments because it is an independent body, operationally separate from the entities and officials it investigates. It conducts its investigations under the auspices of the Superior Court and has broad access to public officials, employees, records and information.

The grand jury’s fact-finding efforts result in written reports which contain specific recommendations aimed at identifying problems and offering recommendations for improving government operations and enhancing responsiveness. In this way, the grand jury acts as a representative of county residents in promoting government accountability.

In some counties, the regular grand jury issues indictments. In others, the Superior Court, at the request of the District Attorney, impanels a separate “criminal grand jury” to hear evidence in support of an indictment. Accusations, which are also filed and taken to trial by the District Attorney, are filed infrequently. Overall, grand juries throughout the state spend considerably more time on investigating and reporting on local government operations than they do on criminal matters. CGJA does not get involved in the any criminal indictment matters