NOTICE: The 32nd General Order - Madera County Superior Court Mitigation of the Spread of COVID-19 & Madera County Grand Jury Proceedings.
In July of each year the Grand Jury is impaneled by a random drawing to complete the nineteen (19) member Grand Jury for Madera County.
Grand Jurors generally serve for one year, July through June (fiscal year). The law provides for holdovers for a second year to assure a smooth transition.
What Is the Grand Jury?
California’s Constitution and laws require the appointment every year of a Grand Jury for each county. In Madera County the court appoints nineteen jurors. They are an official body of the Court with independent authority that is not answerable to administrators or legislators. The Grand Jury’s principal purpose is to guard the public interest. It gives citizens of Madera County a means to participate in the affairs of their local government.
The Final Report
A Final Report is prepared at the end of the Grand Jury’s term that contains summaries of investigations and the Grand Jury’s recommendations. Copies of the Final Report are distributed to the public officials, county libraries and the news media and are available at no charge to the general population. The county Board of Supervisors must respond to each of the Grand Jury’s recommendations within 90 days.
Outside Legal Requirements
There are more specific qualifications which are desirable for a grand juror.
- A general knowledge of the functions, authorities and responsibilities of the county and city governments and other civil entities.
- Research abilities, including complex reading capabilities, background in assessing/analyzing facts and report writing.
- Substantial background in group/committee work.
- Good to excellent health.
- Respect and objectivity concerning the positions and views of others.
The selection process aims at forming a Grand Jury that is widely representative of the citizens of Madera County. The statutory requirements are that each Grand Juror:
- Be a citizen of the United States;
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Reside in Madera County for at least one year before being selected;
- Have ordinary intelligence and good character;
- Possess a working knowledge of the English language;
- Not be presently serving as a trial juror;
- Not have been convicted of a felony or malfeasance in office;
- Not have been a Grand Juror within one year of being selected (although for ease of transition from one year to the next, jurors may be held over for a second year at the discretion of the court);
- Not be presently serving as an elected official
The major functions of a grand jury are divided into criminal indictments and civil investigations. The Grand Jury serves primarily civil (that is, non-criminal) functions – namely, the investigation of county and city government, special districts and school districts. This civil investigation results in recommendations for improvements to save taxpayers’ dollars and to improve services.
The Grand Jury is divided into committees, each of which concentrates on careful and diligent investigation of certain departments of functions of local government. These committees study complaints submitted by citizens of Madera County, visit various facilities, meet with officials, investigate records and documents and draw conclusions regarding the operation of local government.
In the course of its investigations, the Grand Jury may hire an independent auditor to examine “fiscal” or “management” records of local government officers, departments, agencies and districts. The Grand Jury may subpoena witnesses to give testimony before its members or deliver documents for study. After performing these activities, the Grand Jury submits recommendations for improvement of county and cities government to the Board of Supervisors.
The Grand Jury may ask advice of the County Counsel or District Attorney, and may discuss problems with the Presiding Judge of the Court. In matters that might not be properly answered by these officials, the Grand Jury may request advice from the State Attorney General.
The Grand Jury may receive and investigate complaints by individuals, including private citizens, local government officials, and employees, regarding action and performances of public officials. Members of the Grand Jury are sworn to secrecy and, except in very rare circumstances, neither minutes or records of its meetings can be subpoenaed by any outside body, thus assuring that all complaints will be handled in an entirely confidential manner. If the Grand Jury believes evidence submitted is sufficient, a detailed investigation will be held.
Traditionally, Grand Juries have been empowered to investigate criminal activity and, where there is probable cause to bring charges, to return indictments. While this power still exists, there is a separate procedure for impaneling a criminal grand jury by a random selection in the same way a trial jury is selected. Thus the “regular” Grand Jury’s function will be to review the general conduct of government each year to assure honest, efficient government in the best interest of the people.
You can also visit the Madera County Grand Jury web page.