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Forty-two states use some form of the Grand Jury system. California is a State that allows prosecution to be initiated either by a Criminal Grand Jury indictment or by judicial preliminary hearing. The State of California impanels County Civil Grand Juries every year to conduct civil investigations of county and city government and to hear evidence to make recommendations or to decide to return indictments.
Secrecy and complete confidentiality are the sworn commitment of all Grand Jury members. This is to assure the protection and privacy of anyone coming before the jury with, or in response to, a complaint.
The Grand Jury is charged with a grave responsibility. It serves as an ombudsperson for the citizens of Mariposa County. The entire population of the county is affected by an active Civil Grand Jury. Malevolent and unfaithful public servants feel uneasy because unlawful acts may be uncovered, while honest citizens and conscientious public servants are reassured that there is a "watchdog" over inappropriate and illegal activity. Therefore, Civil Grand Jury Service calls for diligence, impartiality, courage, and responsibility.
The Grand Jury submits meaningful solutions to a wide range of problems. It is a volunteer, fact-finding body with the potential to create positive and constructive changes. The Grand Jury is an investigative body created for the protection of society and the enforcement of the law. Although the responsibilities of the Grand Jury are many and diverse, the three prominent functions include:
A. Civil Government Oversight
This is the major function of the Mariposa County Grand Jury, and considerable effort is devoted to these responsibilities. The grand jury may examine all aspects of county government and special districts within the county to insure that the best interest of Mariposa citizens are being served. The Grand Jury reviews and evaluates procedures, methods, and systems used by county government to determine whether more efficient and economical programs may be employed. The Grand Jury is also authorized to:
Inspect and audit books, records and financial expenditures to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent;
Inspect the financial records of special districts in Mariposa County;
Inquire into and inspect the condition of jails and detention centers in Mariposa County;
Investigate any charges of willful misconduct in office by public officials or County employees.
B. Citizen Complaints
As part of the civil function, the Grand Jury receives many complaints from citizens alleging mistreatment by public officials, suspicions of misconduct or governmental inefficiencies. All complaints received from citizens are reviewed and acknowledged in writing. If the subject of the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the Grand Jury, and the Grand Jury as a whole sees fit, the complaint will be investigated. All complaints to the Grand Jury are kept confidential.
C. Criminal Investigations
Occasionally, under certain circumstances, a special Criminal Grand Jury is selected to hold hearings to determine whether evidence presented by the District Attorney is of a sufficient nature to warrant a person to stand trial in a court. The types of cases presented to the Grand Jury by the District Attorney usually include:
Cases involving public officials or employees
Cases involving police officers
Cases in which the statute of limitations is about to expire
White collar crimes, and
Other cases the District Attorney deems appropriate
The grand jury is also authorized to:
1. Inspect and audit books, records and financial expenditures to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent;
2. Inspect financial records of districts in Mariposa County;
3. Inquire into the conditions of jails and detention centers;
4. Inquire into any charges of willful misconduct in office by public officials or employees.
Will objectively investigate, audit, or examine all aspects of County government, and its cities, to ensure that these bodies are being effectively governed and that public monies are being judiciously handled.
May subpoena persons and / or records to obtain information on subjects under investigation.
Is sworn to complete confidentiality, as it pertains to complaints, witnesses, or content of investigative matters. They may not disclose any information they receive within the confines of the jury or the identity of anyone appearing before them, unless permission is given.
May conduct criminal hearings to hand down criminal indictments. After hearing evidence presented by the District Attorney’s office, an affirmative vote of at least 9 out of 11 jurors is necessary to indict. All hearings pertaining to criminal cases are conducted in complete secrecy regardless of their outcome.
The Grand Jury is empowered in Three Areas
1. The Grand Jury investigates aspects of county government’s functions and duties, county departments, county officials, service districts, and special districts funded in whole or in part by public monies.
2. The Grand Jury reviews criminal investigations and returns indictments for crimes committed in the county. When an indictment has been voted, the case proceeds through the Criminal Justice System.
3. The Grand Jury may bring formal accusations against public officials for willful misconduct or corruption in office. These accusations can lead to removal from office.
The foreperson then selects the foreman pro-tem, the recording and corresponding secretaries and a sergeant-at-arms.
Committees are then formed with each juror serving on several committees.
These committees include:
Members of the Grand Jury are selected from applicants who:
Are citizens of the United States Have resided in the County of Mariposa for the past year
Are 18 years of age or older
Have sufficient knowledge of the English language
Have not served as a Grand Juror in any other county in California within the past year
Have never been convicted of malfeasance in office or of any felony
Are not currently serving as an elected public official
Are open-minded with concern for the positions and views of others.
Have an interest in community affairs and the ability to work with others. An application to serve on the Grand Jury may be requested from the Mariposa County Superior Court by contacting:
Mariposa County Superior CourtGrand JuryP.O. Box 316Mariposa, Ca. 95338
(209) 966-6984 Court Website
These 11 concerned county citizens are then impaneled for one year beginning July 1, with the option of holding over for one additional term.
The Jury Investigates…
Possible felonies Charges of malfeasance (wrong doing) Misfeasance (a lawful act in an unlawful matter) Nonfeasance (failure to perform a required act by public officials) All Correspondence will be acknowledged and will remain confidential. Complaints will receive notice of any action taken by Grand Jury.
A complaint form may be obtained by contacting:
County Clerks Office
Downloading the Grand Jury Complaint Form
The Grand Jury reviews all complaints and investigates when appropriate. Each complaint is treated confidentially, and must be in writing.
Please first consider if your complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the Grand Jury as outlined above, and include your name, address and phone number as well as your signature.
The Grand Jury may release individual reports as they are completed during the year. Mariposa County Grand Jury reports are available at the County Library and on the Web at: Grand Jury Reports