What is the purpose of the Civil Grand Jury?

The civil Grand Jury investigates the activities of local governmental agencies within San Joaquin County to assure they are operating in an efficient, effective, and lawful manner.

Do all states have civil grand juries?

California is the one of the few states that retain a civil grand jury structure. Florida, Tennessee, and some other states also use so called civil grand juries, investigating grand juries, or the equivalent.

How do I apply to be on the Grand Jury?

You can fill out a questionnaire form and submit it to the Superior Court.  The application deadline is generally around the middle of March.

How long would I serve on a Grand Jury?

The Grand Jury’s term runs from July of each year to the end of June the following year.  Most members serve a one-year term; however, the supervising Judge can select a few members to serve on a second consecutive term.

Will I investigate any criminal activity?

No.  Criminal matters are heard by a separate criminal grand jury.

Will I serve on any trials?

No.  Trials are heard by petite juries which are selected under a separate process.

Are there any special qualifications to serve?

You must be a citizen of the United States, have resided in San Joaquin County for the year prior to serving,  speak and understand the English language, and pass a criminal background check.  Additionally, basic computer skills, including e-mail usage, have become an essential element to be an effective jury member.

How much time will I have to commit to serve on the Grand Jury?

The minimum time is a weekly meeting of the whole jury that takes most of a day.  How much additional time it actually takes depends on how active you decide to be.  There are committee meetings, investigations, and other activities that are held on days other than the regular meeting day.  Many jurors spend at least 20 hours a week for much of the year.

Who can we investigate?

You are limited to local governments in San Joaquin County, which include the County, cities, special districts, and school districts.  You can also investigate private organizations that receive public funds from a local government, but only with respect to matters included in the contract between the local government and the organization.

Are there any required actions by the Grand Jury?

State law requires the Grand Jury to inspect all jails and prisons in the county.  Also, at least one County department must be investigated during the year.

Do I get paid?

You receive $15 for each day that you have a meeting for grand jury activity.  You also receive mileage at the County’s reimbursement rate for actual mileage travel for Grand jury activities.

Can I tell my family and friends what I’m doing on the Grand Jury?

NO!  You are sworn to strict secrecy about everything that takes place during a Grand Jury’s investigations and deliberations.  This is a life-long secrecy requirement.  After the Grand Jury’s report is published, you may talk only about what is in the written report.

Why would I serve?

All governmental entities, whether at the county, city, or special district level, requires citizen oversight to be effective, efficient and accountable. Your service would directly benefit the community accordingly by shedding light on their service to we the people through your work on the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury.

What is the purpose of the San Joaquin County Chapter?

  • Provide citizens of San Joaquin County with information on the grand jury system and its importance and benefit to the well-being of the community
  • Work with the Court to support training and orientation of all new grand jurors
  • Assist in recruiting qualified candidates for membership on the grand jury
  • Advance the preservation and availability of grand jury reports and official responses.
  • Promote greater awareness of grand jury work, including meaningful responses by local government agencies