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Grand Jury Reports

Grand Jury Reports

State Law requires that each grand jury submit a final report of its findings and recommendations to the presiding judge of the Superior Court.

A report, just as an accusation or an indictment, must be approved by at least 12 of the 19 grand jurors (15 if it is a 23 member jury). With so many possible investigations and a term limited to a single year, it is necessary for each grand jury to make hard decisions as to what it wishes to undertake during the term. Except for mandated duties to report on the financial condition of the county and on the conditions of county jails, the grand jury discretion in determining its agenda. Most grand juries divide into committees for conducting investigations and for writing reports, but there seems to be a wide variation between counties as to the number and structure of committees; it is up to each grand jury to determine its own method of operation within the parameters of the law.

Government agencies that are the subject of reports are required by law to respond to specific grand jury findings and recommendations. However, the grand jury has no enforcement power, and the agencies are under no legal obligation to carry out the recommendations. While some recommendations are ignored, others are followed; particularly those that suggest greater efficiency for operations and that do not require the expenditure of large sums of money. Grand jury criticisms of public officials and agencies frequently attract press attention, bringing greater community awareness of what is happening in public agencies. Many grand jurors believe that public officials tend to be more accountable when they know an impartial; outside body is looking over their collective shoulders.

The California Grand Jurors Association (CGJA), a statewide organization of former grand jurors has begun a program of identifying and indexing grand jury reports in each county with the hope of establishing a state archive of annual reports. The State Library also maintains an archive of grand jury reports from all counties. CGJA also monitors and occasionally proposes or endorses proposed laws to conserve and improve the grand jury as an important institution of local government. It offers services to those grand juries that may request advice and help in preparing informational manuals and in providing orientation for incoming jurors. Some members of the CGJA now provide orientation programs for those counties that request this service.

While surrounded by secrecy before publication, grand jury reports become public documents when signed by the grand jury foreman and approved by the grand jury's advisory judge. Copies are sent: to all targeted government agencies, to interested officials, to public and private groups and individuals and to the press. At the end of the year, bound or loose-leaf copies of all reports are placed in all public libraries.

Online Grand Jury Reports

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