The Grand Jury's role has its basis in the U.S. Constitution (Fifth Amendment), in the California State Constitution (Art. 1, Sec 23), and in numerous statutes of the State of California. It functions as an arm of the judicial branch of government, and at the local level, operates under the authority of the Superior Court.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How does the Grand Jury Process Work?
Applications for service are received by the Jury Commissioner and reviewed by the Presiding Judge. Effort is made to impanel an ideal jury of qualified men and women of diverse social-economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds representing all geographical areas of the county, as well as age groups. By court policy, and at the discretion of the Presiding Judge, up to seven members of the previous year's jury may serve a second term to provide continuity. A total of 19 people serve on the Grand Jury. From the remaining candidates, a drawing is held to provide for alternates.
Some subjects to be investigated are brought about by letters from citizens regarding complaints of alleged mistreatment by officials, suspicion of misconduct or governmental inefficiencies. All complaints are kept confidential. If the situation warrants, and after investigation, the Grand Jury may make appropriate recommendations for action.
A large portion of the public mistakenly believes that when an individual appears before the Grand Jury, particularly a public official, there is a suspicion of malfeasance or misfeasance. It should be clearly understood that it is the constitutional responsibility of the Grand Jury to review the conduct of county and city government each year. This entails having public officials appear before the Grand Jury to provide information to the Grand Jury relative to their departments or offices.
While Grand Jurors are a part of the Judicial System and are considered as officers of the court, the Grand Jury is an entirely independent body. The Grand Jury Presiding Judge, District Attorney, County Counsel, and State Attorney General act as advisors, but cannot limit actions of the Grand Jury except for illegality.
Because of the confidential nature of a Grand Jury's work, much of it must be done in closed session. Members of a Grand Jury are sworn to secrecy, thus assuring all who appear that their complaints will be handled in an entirely confidential manner. No one may be present during sessions of the Grand Jury except those specified by law (Penal Code § 939), and the minutes of its meetings may not be inspected by anyone, nor can its records be subpoenaed.
The law provides that every Grand Juror must keep secret all evidence adduced before the Grand Jury, anything said by a Grand Juror and the manner in which a grand juror may have voted on a matter. By law it is a misdemeanor to violate the secrecy of the Grand Jury room. A Grand Juror must not confide any information concerning testimony of witnesses or action of the jury even to a spouse or close friend. "Leaks" concerning Grand Jury proceedings inevitably will impair or even destroy the effectiveness of Grand Jury efforts.
Mid-year and final reports describe problems and contain findings and recommendations. Responses are required within 90 days from any public agency and 60 days from any elected officer or agency head.
Who Can Serve on the Grand Jury?
Yuba County residents who are interested in participating in the Grand Jury process are encouraged to apply. The statutory requirements are that each Grand Juror:
- Be a citizen of the United States;
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Reside in Yuba County for at least one year before being selected;
- Have ordinary intelligence and good character;
- Possess a working knowledge of the English language;
- Not presently serving as a trial juror in any court of the state
- Not having been a Grand Juror within one year of being selected (jurors may be held over for a second year);
- Have not been convicted of a felony;
- Not presently serving as an elected official.
Interested citizens who wish to serve on the Yuba County Grand Jury should fill out a Yuba County Grand Jury Application and mail to:
Yuba County Superior Court Attn: Jury Services 215 Fifth Street, Suite 200 Marysville, CA 95901
The following are traits that make for a good grand juror:
- Be a good listener.
- Able to cooperate with 18 others toward a common goal.
- Able to keep a secret. All work must remain confidential.
- Have the stamina to commit to a full year of productive work.
- Able to ask thoughtful questions, review documents, and help write lucid reports.
- Be interested in trying to increase the efficiency of local government, save taxpayers' dollars, and improve services.
- Be able to devote, on the average, 10 to 15 hours per week; attend evening meetings twice a month.
Yuba County residents who are interested in participating in the Grand Jury process are encouraged to apply.
A separate Criminal Grand Jury may be impaneled at the request of the District Attorney to investigate and consider possible criminal indictments for crimes committed in Yuba County.
How to file a complaint?
If you wish to file a complaint with the Grand Jury, please fill out the Grand Jury Complaint Form and mail it to:
Yuba County Grand Jury
215 Fifth Street, 3rd Floor, Suite 325
Marysville, CA 95901
Please mark it “Confidential”.
Any matters referred to the Grand Jury for possible investigation must be submitted in writing with supporting background information and documents. If documents are available, but too voluminous to mail, indicate that in correspondence.