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Civil grand jury

WHY BECOME A GRAND JUROR?

Those who are asked to serve on the Grand Jury feel privileged to be selected. They enter this service with interest and curiosity in learning more about the administration and operation of the government in the county in which they live.

Although serving as a Grand Juror consumes many hours, those who serve are willing to give their time for the betterment of the government which, in truth, belongs to them.

If and when you are asked to serve as a Grand Juror, step up to your responsibility, accept the appointment and represent the community in which you live.

Santa Clara County residents are urged to apply for service on the Grand Jury.

Residents may do so by submitting the 2020-2021 Civil Grand Jury Application and Nomination Form. Instructions to submit the form can be found here 

For additional information, including how to contact the Grand Jury, click to see the Court's Civil Grand Jury brochure .

Now Accepting Applications for the Civil Grand Jury!

The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara is now accepting applications for service on the 2020-2021 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury. The application can be found here or by contacting the Office of the Grand Jury at: cgj@scscourt.org.

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

 

About the Civil Grand Jury: Current Members, Grand Jury Investigations, Grand Jury Reports, History, Functions, Qualifications, Selection Process, Commitment, Remuneration, and Orientation

Current Members: List of 2019-2020 Civil Grand Jury members 

                                2019-2020 Demographic Data 

Grand Jury Investigations:  

Any person may submit a complaint form to request a Civil Grand Jury investigation.

Note: The Civil Grand Jury does not investigate all complaints received.

The jurisdiction of the Civil Grand Jury is limited by statute and includes the following:
    • Consideration of evidence of misconduct against public officials to determine whether to present formal accusations requesting their removal from office
    • Inquiry into the condition and management of public prisons within the county
    • Investigation and report on the operations, accounts, and records of the officers, departments, or functions of the county including those operations, accounts, and records of any special legislative district or other district in the county pursuant to state law for which the officers of the county are serving in their ex officio capacity as officers of the districts
    • May investigate the books and records of any incorporated city or joint powers agency located in the county

The Civil Grand Jury has no jurisdiction to investigate State or Federal government agencies, the Courts, non-governmental entities, or matters outside Santa Clara County.

Click here for the Citizen Complaint Form in English.The form is also available in Spanish here. 

The complaint form may be prepared and submitted to the Superior Court by mail, fax, online or in-person as described below:

  • Complete the Citizen Complaint Form online, print and sign the form, and mail to: Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury, Superior Court, 191 North First Street, San José, CA 95113

    • Complete the Citizen Complaint Form online, print and sign the form, and hand-deliver to Court Administration: Attn: Britney Huelbig, Deputy Manager – Administration, 201 North First Street, San José, CA 95113

    • Download a copy of the Citizen Complaint Form, completed the form, using Adobe Reader, and send a printed copy via fax to: (408) 882-2795, Superior Court, Attn: Britney Huelbig, Deputy Manager, Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury

    • Complete the Citizen Complaint Form on-line, using Adobe Acrobat
        • After opening the form in Acrobat select “File”, “Save As”, and enter a new name for the file and select the location of where you would like the file to be saved. Select “OK”.
         • Open your email application and create a new email message. Attach the file you just created, and send the email to cgj@scscourt.org

    Grand Jury Reports:  

    Final 2018 - 2019 Reports (and agency responses, in blue, below reports)

    1. San José - Unfunded Pension Liabilities 
    2. The Santa Clara County Fairgrounds: A Diamond in the Rough 
    3. Improving San José Police Department's 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 Call Answering Time 
    4. City of Santa Clara: Public Records Access 
    5. Inquiry into the Governance of the Valley Transportation Authority 
    6. Show Me the Money! Where Your Property Taxes Go 

    2001-2018 Final Reports & Agency Responses: see Archive page

    Information about the Civil Grand Jury:

    History

    The concept of juries dates back to Norman times in the eleventh century. By 1215 the jury concept had evolved into a guarantee expressed in the Magna Carta that no freeman would be “imprisoned or [dispossessed] or exiled or in any way destroyed...except by the lawful judgment of his peers….”

    In the United States, the Massachusetts Bay Colony impaneled the first grand jury in 1635 to consider cases of murder, robbery, and wife beating. The U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment and the California Constitution call for grand juries. Grand juries were established throughout California during the early years of statehood. As constituted today, the grand jury is a part of the judicial branch of government, an arm of the court.

    Functions of the Grand Jury

    The responsibilities and authority of the Civil Grand Jury are specified in the California Constitution, the Penal Code, the Government Code, case law, and attorney general opinions. The Civil Grand Jury is an investigatory body created for the protection of society and the enforcement of the law. Although the responsibilities of a juror are many and diverse, the three predominant functions include:

    Civil Watchdog Responsibilities

    This is the major function of present day grand jurors, and considerable effort is devoted to these responsibilities. The Grand Jury may examine all aspects of county and city government and special districts to ensure that the best interests of Santa Clara county citizens are being served. The Grand Jury reviews and evaluates procedures, methods and systems utilized by county/city government to determine whether more efficient and economical programs may be employed. The Grand Jury is also authorized to:
        • Inspect and audit books, records and financial expenditures to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent.
        • Inspect financial records of over 25 special districts in Santa Clara County.
        • Inquire into the conditions of jails and detention centers.
        • Inquire into charges of willful misconduct in office by public officials or employees.

    Most Grand Jury “watchdog” findings are contained in reports describing problems encountered and making recommendations for solutions. During it term, the Grand Jury may issue final reports on the operations of Santa Clara county government entities and officials. Every entity/official that is the subject of a “watchdog” report must comment upon the Grand Jury’s recommendations.


    Citizen Complaints
    The Civil Grand Jury may receive complaints from citizens raising concerns about local government or its officials. These citizen complaints are acknowledged and may be the basis of a Grand Jury investigation and report. All complaints are kept confidential.

    Qualifications

    Prospective grand jurors must possess the following qualifications per Penal Code Section 893:
         • Be a citizen of the United States of the age of 18 years or older who shall have been a resident of the county for one year immediately before being sworn
         • Be in possession of his or her natural faculties, or ordinary intelligence, of sound judgment and of fair character
         • Possess sufficient knowledge of the English language

    A Person is NOT competent to act as a grand juror if any of the following apply:

         • The person is serving as a trial juror in any court of this state
         • The person has been discharged as a grand juror in any court of this state within one year
         • The person has been convicted of malfeasance in office or any felony or other high crime
         • The person is serving as an elected public official

    Desirable qualifications for a grand juror include the following: Open-mindedness, with concern for the views of others. Ability to work with others. Genuine interest in community affairs. Investigative skills and an ability to write reports.

    Selection Process

    In the spring of each year, Superior Court Judges seek volunteers to apply for service on the Grand Jury. The Superior Court Judges nominate thirty prospective grand jurors from the pool of applicants, divided among the county’s supervisorial districts. These people are invited to appear before the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court. At that time, with the outgoing Grand Jury in attendance, sufficient names are drawn randomly to form a panel of 19. The Presiding Judge often designates one or more outgoing Grand Jurors to “hold over” and serve on the subsequent year’s Grand Jury. All 19 members are then sworn in and given a description of their duties and responsibilities by the Presiding Judge. Grand Jurors serve a minimum term of one year.

    Commitment

    Persons selected for Grand Jury service must make a time commitment of a minimum of three days per week (20-25 hours) for a period of one fiscal year. It is not uncommon for Grand Jury members to devote four and sometimes five days per week to their duties.

    Remuneration

    Grand Jurors receive per diem for meetings and Grand Jury activities, and mileage reimbursement.

    Orientation

    An orientation program about county and city government and other county entities is provided to those selected for Grand Jury service.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • © 2020 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara