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California is served by a grand jury system that provides a grand jury in each county empowered by law to bring indictments or perform an oversight function into the operation of county and municipal governments. Federal grand juries and county grand juries in most other states are concerned only with criminal indictments and have no civil responsibilities.
Each July nineteen citizens of Riverside County are sworn as grand jurors for twelve months' service ending June 30 of the following year. Service is a full-time job with each grand jury establishing its own work schedule. Riverside County Grand Jury meets usually four days each week from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A grand juror receives $60 for each full day served, mileage and free parking. Jurors are expected to dress in proper business attire.
On occasion, Riverside County empanels a "special grand jury" drawn from the general jury pool to hear that specific criminal case. Once that case is over, that "special grand jury" is disbanded. The "civil grand jury" impaneled for a year (described in this brochure) is not a criminal investigatory body, however, on rare occasions this jury may also be asked to sit on a criminal hearing of a special nature.
The Riverside County Grand Jury is primarily a civil jury conducting general business meetings that include committee meetings inquiring into the operation of county and municipal governments. Conclusions of findings are developed into recommendations on how to improve county and municipal governments and presented to the Board of Supervisors. In addition, the Riverside County Grand Jury reviews complaints submitted by county residents.
By law a citizen eighteen years of age or older who has been a resident of the county for one year immediately before being selected, is a person of ordinary intelligence and good character, and possesses sufficient knowledge of the English language is qualified to be a candidate.
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 or has been discharged as a grand juror in any court within one year; the person has been convicted of malfeasance in office or any felony or any other high crime; the person is serving as an elected public officer.
In January of each year, a public announcement is posted soliciting applicants for the grand jury. Applications are accepted and submitted to a committee of judges for review. Qualified persons are then invited to an interview.
The Superior Court Judges try to nominate persons representing the cultural, ethnic, and diverse life experience of the County of Riverside so the grand jury may reflect the many interests and concerns of its citizens.
From a list of qualified persons nominated by the judges, up to nineteen names are selected to comprise the grand jury. The number of names drawn may vary annually depending on the number of jurors held over from the last year's panel.
Additionally, approximately eleven more names are drawn and placed on an alternate jurors' list to fill vacancies created throughout the year.
During the first week of July, the selected nineteen grand jurors are sworn in and given a description of their duties and responsibilities by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of Riverside County.
The Presiding Judge of the Superior Court designates the foreperson to preside over all proceedings of the grand jury. The newly-formed grand jury body consists of the following officers to conduct general business: foreperson pro tem, secretary, sergeant at arms and parliamentarian.
The grand jury is divided into committees, each concentrating its attention on the investigation of certain functions of city or county government to meet whatever special needs or problems may be confronting the city or county at the time of each new grand jury's impanelment. All committees visit various county and municipal facilities, meet with county and municipal employees and officials, and develop recommendations for improvement. All jail facilities in the county are personally inspected, and many improvements have resulted from past grand juries' recommendations.
The Riverside County Grand Jury is primarily a civil jury, performing "oversight" functions for county government, inquiries from the community on elected officials and other organizations concerning any misconduct.
Additionally, any private citizen, county official, or county employee may present a complaint in writing to the grand jury. The jury limits its investigations to possible charges of malfeasance (wrongdoing) or misfeasance (doing of a lawful act in an unlawful manner) by public officials. Any request for an investigation must include detailed evidence supporting the complaint. If the jury believes that the evidence submitted is sufficient, a detailed investigation will be held.
Each grand jury submits final reports that pertain to county and city government and other applicable agencies throughout its term. These reports are available for public review on the Riverside Superior Courts web site.
The Grand Jury wants the public to know more about its functions. Letters to the Grand Jury with specific questions will be answered. Detailed information may be found in the California Penal Code, Sections 893 through 939.
For further information please contact:
Riverside County Grand Jury
P. O. Box 829
Riverside, CA 92502