Letter to the Editor

Grand jury function

Arroyo GrandeFebruary 27, 2014 

Mr. Gere Sibbach’s Viewpoint comment on Feb. 23 that grand juries have “no real enforcement power” is inconsistent with the rule of law. The primary function of each California county grand jury is:

1. To weigh allegations of misconduct against public officials and to determine whether to present formal acquisitions requesting their removal from office (California code 922).

2. To act as the public’s “watchdog” by investigating and reporting upon the affairs of local government (e.g. California Code 919, 925 et seq.).

In order to fulfill its duties, the grand jury has the ability to seek court orders to subpoena evidence and bring indictments. It can solicit the assistance of the California Attorney General and beyond if the local courts are uncooperative.

California grand juries are often districted by early meetings with county officials who may have a conflict of interest and/or generally consider the annual grand jury a “royal pain in the ass.” Every member of the jury who understands that public service is to be encouraged and respected but the people cannot yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them will enjoy the satisfaction of a very important job well done.

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