About the Grand Jury

The Nevada County Grand Jury is a judicial body sanctioned by the Superior Court to act as an extension of the Court and the conscience of the community. The Jury is an investigative body created for the protection of society and enforcement of its laws. The conduct of the Jury is defined in California Penal Code Sections 888 through 945. Jurors are officers of the Superior Court but function as an independent body.

A Jury’s function is to inquire into and review the conduct of county government and special districts. It is also authorized to inspect and audit the books, records, and financial expenditures of all agencies and departments under its jurisdiction to ensure funds are properly accounted for and legally spent. Jurors are citizens of all ages and different walks of life bringing their unique experiences, personalities, and abilities. All Jurors are volunteers who must apply in writing and be interviewed. They are then randomly picked by the Jury’s Presiding Superior Court Judge. Jurors spend many hours researching, reading, and attending meetings to monitor county and city government and special districts and overseeing appointed and elected officials.

The Jury receives formal complaints from citizens who allege government inefficiencies, mistreatment by officials, or who voice suspicions of misconduct. Anyone may ask that the Jury conduct an investigation on agencies or departments within the Jury’s jurisdiction. The Jury cannot be forced to undertake an inquiry it deems unnecessary or frivolous. The Jury may also investigate an issue or condition without receiving a formal complaint.

Members of the Jury are sworn to secrecy and all Jury proceedings are secret. This secrecy guards the public interest and protects the confidentiality of sources. The minutes and records of Jury meetings cannot be subpoenaed or inspected by anyone.

Each Juror must keep secret all evidence presented before the Jury, anything said within the Jury, and the manner in which any Juror may have voted on a matter. The Juror’s oath of secrecy is binding for life. It is a misdemeanor to violate the secrecy of the Jury room. Successful performance of Jury duties depends upon the secrecy of all proceedings. A Juror must not divulge any information concerning the testimony of witnesses or comments made by other Jurors. The confidentiality of witnesses and complainants is critical.

A report may be written after many hours of fact-finding investigation conducted by the Jury. A report can disclose inefficiency, unfairness, wrongdoing, and violations of public law and regulations by local governments and special districts. A report can also recognize positive aspects or provide information to the public. A report provides the mechanism for the Jury to make recommendations for change and request responses to ensure more efficient and lawful operation of government.

© 2016 Superior Court of Nevada County
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