OVERVIEW OF THE CIVIL GRAND JURY
Siskiyou County civil grand jury has 19 members. The grand jury is a judicial
body composed of a set number of citizens (11, 19, or 23) based on county
population. It is impaneled by the state constitution and various laws to act
as an “arm of the court,” to be a voice of the people and conscience of the
present grand jury system evolved from the ecclesiastical courts of the Dark
Ages, beginning in 1164 when Henry II of England impaneled the first 16 man
grand jury to remove criminal indictments from the hands of the church. In
1635, the first American grand jury was impaneled in the Massachusetts Bay
Colony; by 1683 grand juries were present in all of the colonies. These early
grand juries began the practice of returning “presentments,” which were
primarily against public officials and different from criminal indictments.
forty-two states have some form of grand jury, only California and Nevada
mandate that county grand juries be impaneled every year to conduct civil
investigations of county government
Grand Jury Functions
Grand Jury has two functions:
1. Acting in a public
"watchdog” capacity by reviewing and reporting on the affairs of local
government. Most of an average Civil Grand Jury's time is spent reviewing local
agencies and units of county government.
2. Investigating formal
complaints from citizens against public officials and local agencies and units
of government for misconduct in office.
1. Investigate and
report on the operations, accounts, and functions of:
County officers, departments and special legislative districts governed By
county officers in their ex-officio capacity;
City officers and departments;
Joint Powers Agencies and officers;
Special purpose assessing or taxing districts locally wholly or partly within
Local Agency Formation Commission;
Any nonprofit corporation established or operated on behalf of a Public
Districts and Boards of Education.
Investigate and report upon the needs for the increase or decrease of salaries
of the county elected officials.
and report upon the needs of all county officers in the county, including
abolition or creation of offices and equipment for, or the method or system of,
performing the duties of the severs offices.
into the conditions and management of the public prisons within the County.
and inquire into the willful or corrupt misconduct in office of public officers
of every description within the county.
and inquire into sales and transfer of land, and into the ownership of land
which, under state law, might or should escheat to the State of California.
Response to Complaints
individual may file a complaint with the Civil Grand Jury about the conduct of
local agencies or units of government and public officials, whether elected or
appointed. Anyone may ask for an investigation of alleged misconduct. Because
names are never used in Civil Grand Jury Reports, individuals' confidentiality
To request an investigation, down
load, complete and return (click on) form. A
complaint form may also be obtained from Tami Zufelt, Court Manager, Siskiyou
County Superior Court, P.O. Box 1026, Yreka, 96097; (530)-842-8179.
a complaint investigation, all information received by the Civil Grand Jury is
kept in strict confidence and secrecy. Absolutely nothing may be disclosed by
a Juror; even after his/her term has ended. It is a misdemeanor for Civil
Grand Juror to disclose evidence presented to the Civil Grand Jury or of
conversations, deliberations, and votes of Jurors (Penal Code 924.1).
is a part of the judicial system, a civil grand jury is an entirely independent
body. Judges of the Superior Court, the district attorney, the county counsel,
and the state attorney general may act as its advisors but cannot attend
jury deliberations nor control the actions of the Grand Jury. Penal Code §
grand jury exercises its powers by means of final reports of all completed
investigations, findings therein, and recommended actions. Reports may be
issued as completed throughout the year of service. All reports, including the
midterm (sometimes called interim) reports, will be collectively published at
the end of the term in a consolidated final report. Midterm reports are
frequently more effective in developing public awareness because of individual
attention by news media. The ultimate power of the civil grand jury is in
obtaining public support for the reports. Penal Code § 933.
or departments and their governing bodies that are the subjects of
investigations are required to respond to the findings and recommendations
contained in the report within 60 or 90 days. Penal Code § 933.05
Ethics, Conflict of Interest, and Bias
of the grand jury may use his or her office for any kind of personal gain or
advantage. Grand jurors must not identify themselves as grand jurors in matters
other than those directly connected with grand jury business. They must not use
their status as grand jurors to influence others or obtain favors during grand
Conflict of Interest
Jurors serving on standing committees and carrying out
investigations for the grand jury will not use or appear to use such position
for private gain. Jurors must not participate in any grand jury action when
they have a clear, pre-existing bias regarding that action.
Term of Office Jurors are appointed to a term of
one year. Jurors may be carried over for a second term if they wish. However
Jurors may not serve more than two consecutive terms without a one year break.
In Siskiyou County the term runs from July1st to June 30th.
If you wish to obtain an application, to become a Grand Jury
Member, just click on this link to
access and print the form. Please mail the application to: Siskiyou County
Superior Court, Attn. Tami Zufelt, Court Manager, P.O. Box 1026, Yreka, Ca.