Whom Do We Support? The Shasta County Grand Jury, Explained
Updated: Jan 12, 2020
What is the Shasta County Grand Jury?
The Shasta County Grand Jury is the only independent "watchdog" investigative body in Shasta County. Composed of 19 citizens who serve for a one-year term, the Grand Jury monitors the performance of the county, cities, and other local governing entities and makes recommendations which can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government services.The grand jury has the power to issue accusations against government wrongdoers. In addition, at the request of the district attorney, the grand jury can consider indictments in criminal cases (although this procedure is infrequently used).
Who Can Serve?
Any U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older who has been a resident of Shasta County for one year, with good character, English literate, and not currently serving as a trial juror, is eligible to serve on the Shasta County Grand Jury.
How Does it Work?
Each year from January 1 through mid-April, applications for grand jury service are accepted from all qualified citizens. The judges of the Shasta County Superior Court review the candidates and select up to 30 potential jurors. A drawing is held to seat a total of 19 members; those remaining serve as alternates. Shasta County grand jurors are sworn in and begin their one-year term the first part of July. They receive orientation and training on their responsibilities as grand jurors, the duties and operations of local government agencies, how to conduct investigations, and report writing techniques. The court appoints a foreperson to preside at meetings.
The grand jury then organizes itself and investigates various departments and functions of local government as it chooses. The topics the grand jury might investigate can be suggested by complaints from citizens, suspicion of misconduct or government inefficiencies, or because of the interest of members of the grand jury. Such referrals, indeed all transactions of the grand jury, are kept confidential.
The advice of the county counsel, the district attorney, and the court is available to assist the grand jury as it undertakes its responsibilities. The grand jury can issue its reports throughout the year (although reports are usually issued immediately after the end of the grand jury's term). The reports contain the grand jury's findings from its investigations, as well as recommendations to elected officials and governing boards aimed at improving the operations of local government and identifying any wrongdoing. Responses to the findings and recommendations are required within 60 to 90 days.
Why Should You Volunteer?
As a grand juror, you will have an opportunity to help make local government more responsive and efficient. You will learn more about how city and county government and special districts operate, and have the opportunity to interact with local officials. An exciting and challenging year of investigations and thoughtful deliberation will give you a worthwhile education and a unique experience. Probably no other volunteer service gives an opportunity to make a difference on such a large scope.
Who Would Make a Good Grand Juror?
You would, if you:
Are interested in how local government works and how it can operate more effectively
Are willing to cooperate with 18 others in creating and working toward common goals
Can serve from 10 to 20 hours (or more) each week for one year (from July 1 through June 30)
Are willing to learn (or already have) the skills of listening, asking thoughtful questions, reviewing documents, and helping to write reports
Can exercise strict confidentiality during and after your term as a grand juror
How Do We Support the Grand Jury?
As the Shasta County Grand Jurors' supporting Association, we assist in training new jurors in legal procedures each July. We provide a report-writing workshop for seated jurors each November. During the spring, we spearhead recruitment for the next jury, which includes coordinating with the Shasta County Superior Court regarding juror applications and interviews.