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Grand Jury


Civil Grand Jury

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Click here to apply for the Civil Grand Jury.

What Is The Los Angeles Civil Grand Jury?

The main function of the Civil Grand Jury is to investigate county, city, and joint-power agencies. This is a significant civil function. The Grand Jury acts in a "watch-dog" capacity, by examining carefully and completely, the operations of various government agencies within Los Angeles County. The Civil Grand Jury cannot investigate state or federal agencies, which lie outside their jurisdiction. Part of the investigation of governmental agencies includes the ability to audit operations, accounts and records of officers and departments within the agency under investigation. The Civil Grand Jury is further charged with investigating individual complaints from citizens. By statute the Grand Jury is required to inquire regarding the conditions and management of all public prisons within the County of Los Angeles.

What Is The Term Of Service?

Each July twenty-three citizens of Los Angeles County are sworn to serve as civil grand jurors for twelve-month service ending June of the following year. Service is a full-time job, 5 days a week and approximately 30 to 40 hours each week.

Los Angeles County, with its 9.7 million people, its numerous facilities and agencies, and problems, is so big and so complex that the members of the Civil Grand Jury must be prepared to devote their time and energies almost totally to the needs and demands of the Civil Grand Jury. Most Grand Juries meet four or five days each week from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Civil Grand Jury offices located in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Downtown Los Angeles. A grand juror receives $60.00 for each day's attendance, plus mileage at the current available rate and free parking. If a grand juror chooses to use public transportation to sessions of the Grand Jury, he or she will be reimbursed for the cost of that transportation.

It is essential that all Civil Grand Jurors be in attendance each session. A full body of jurors is essential to productive discussion of issues and decision-making; therefore, only the most pressing emergency or a juror’s illness should be reasons for absence.

Anyone who is nominated to serve on the Civil Grand Jury must be fully cognizant of the time involved. Each prospective grand juror should sincerely and thoughtfully weigh any and all family, personal, and business obligations before accepting this nomination.

What Are The Functions Of The Civil Grand Jury?

The civil, or "watchdog," responsibilities of the grand jury encompass the examination of all aspects of the county government, including special districts, to ensure that the county is being governed honestly and efficiently and that county monies are being handled appropriately. The Grand Jury is mandated by law to inquire into the condition and management of public jails.

Functions of the Civil Grand Jury include the general business meetings and the committee meetings of the Grand Jury to inquire into and possibly investigate the operation of city and county government and special districts of local government. Valuable information is obtained by meeting with county officials, visiting county facilities and conducting independent research by using the services of an outside auditor. Conclusions of the auditor’s findings are developed into recommendations on how to improve county government and public services and ways to save taxpayers’ dollars and presented to the Board of Supervisors.

Who May Be On The Civil Grand Jury?

By law a citizen eighteen years of age or older who has been a resident of Los Angeles County for one year immediately prior to being selected, who is a person of ordinary intelligence and good character, and who possesses sufficient knowledge of the English language is qualified to be a candidate.

A person is not competent to act as a grand juror if any of the following apply:

(1) the person is currently serving as a trial juror; (2) has been discharged as a grand juror in any court within one year; the person has been convicted of misconduct in office or any felony or any high crime; or (4) the person is serving as an elected public official.

How Is A Person Chosen For The Civil Grand Jury?

Each year, prior to March 1st, every Superior Court judicial officer in Los Angeles County may nominate two persons who he or she deems qualified to serve as grand jurors. Interested citizens may also apply as volunteers by obtaining a Civil Grand Jury packet from the Grand Jury Office located at 210 West Temple Street, Los Angeles or via this site. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. A member of the Grand Jurors Committee interviews each volunteer applicant. The interviewing judge than assigns a qualification rating to each volunteer interviewed. The volunteers’ applications forms are then circulated among the Superior Court judges for possible nomination.

It is the goal of the judicial officers to nominate persons representing the cultural, ethnic, and diverse life experiences of the residents in the County of Los Angeles in order that the Grand Jury may reflect the many interests and concerns of its citizens.

From a final list of persons nominated by the judges, forty names and a designated number of alternates are selected by lottery. After these people have been screened by law enforcement agencies, a second drawing takes place and the final twenty-three jurors and a designated number of alternates are drawn. During the first week of July, the selected twenty-three and alternates are sworn in and given a description of their duties and responsibilities by the supervising judge of the Superior Court Criminal Division and their legal advisor, County Counsel.

The twenty-three Civil Grand Jurors and alternates are required to complete financial disclosure forms, in compliance with California Government Code Sections 81000-91015.

How Is The Civil Grand Jury Organized?

The Presiding Judge of the Superior Court designates the foreperson to preside over all proceedings of the Grand Jury. The newly formed Grand Jury body selects the following officers to conduct general business: Foreperson pro-tem, secretary, secretary pro-tem, sergeant-at-arms, sergeant-at-arms pro-tem, and parliamentarian. The County Counsel is the county’s principal attorney for civil matters. The County Counsel provides legal services for the county’s business affairs. A Deputy County Counsel is assigned as the legal advisor to assist the grand jury in providing advice on legal questions. In situations where the County Counsel has a conflict of interest, the grand jury may then seek legal advice from the State Attorney General.

Who May Ask The Civil Grand Jury To Investigate?

Any private citizen, county official, or county employee may present a complaint in writing to the Civil Grand Jury. The Civil Grand Jury limits its investigations to possible felonies and to charges of malfeasance (wrong doing) or misfeasance (doing a lawful act in an unlawful manner) by public officials. Any request for an investigation must include detailed evidence supporting the complaint. If the grand jurors believe that the evidence submitted is sufficient, a detailed investigation will be held.

How Is County Government Investigated By The Grand Jury?

The Civil Grand Jury is divided into committees, each of which concentrates its attention on the investigation of certain departments or functions of city or county government, to meet whatever special needs or problems may be confronting the city or county at the time of each new Civil Grand Jury’s impanelment. The audit, complaints, and jails committees are considered essential by most Civil Grand Juries because of mandates to audit the county, examine complaints, and inspect the jails. An independent auditor is hired by the Civil Grand Jury to examine the financial records and the methods of operation for specific departments that are selected by the Civil Grand Jury. All committees visit various county facilities, meet with county officials and develop recommendations for improvement. All jail facilities in the county are personally inspected and many improvements have resulted from past Grand Juries’ recommendations. At the end of the Grand Jury’s term, a final report is prepared and printed with each committee’s recommendations and sent to the County Board of Supervisors. Agencies that were investigated are mandated to respond within ninety days upon release of the Final Report. Copies of the final report are distributed to public officials, libraries, and the news media.

How May The Public Find Out More About The Civil Grand Jury?

The Civil Grand Jury wants the public to know more about its functions. Letters to the Civil Grand Jury with specific questions will be answered. Detailed information may be found in the California Penal Code, Section 888 through 939. By advance arrangement school groups may be given a brief tour of the Civil Grand Jury chambers by the Civil Grand Jury foreperson or a speaker may be obtained by calling the office of the Civil Grand Jury at (213) 893-1047.

For further information please contact:

Civil Grand Jury, County of Los Angeles
Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center
210 West Temple Street
11th Floor, Room 11-506
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Click here to view the Grand Jury Timetable of Events.


How To File A Request For Investigation With The Civil Grand Jury

Communications from the public can provide valuable information to the Civil Grand Jury. If the Civil Grand Jury determines that a matter drawn to its attention is within the legally permissible scope of its investigative powers and would warrant further inquiry, the Civil Grand Jury may request additional information. If a matter does not fall within the Civil Grand Jury’s investigative authority, or the Civil Grand Jury determines not to further investigate a complaint, no action will be taken and there will be no further contact by the Civil Grand Jury.

The findings of any investigation conducted by the Civil Grand Jury can be communicated only in a formal final report, which is normally published at the conclusion of the Civil Grand Jury’s term of impanelment (June 30th). Copies of the final report are available by calling (213) 893-1047 and are also located on the Grand Jury web site.

The Grand Jury has no jurisdiction or authority to investigate federal agencies, state agencies, or the courts. The jurisdiction of the Civil Grand Jury is limited by statute and includes the following:

    Inquiry into all public offenses committed or triable within the county and presenting them to the court by indictment.

    Consideration of evidence of misconduct against public officials to determine whether to present formal accusations requesting their removal from office.

    The inquiry into the condition and management of public prisons with in the county.

    The investigation and report on the operations, accounts, and records of the officers, departments, or functions of the county including those operations, accounts, and records of any special legislative district or other district in the county pursuant to state law for which the officers of the county are serving in their ex officio capacity as officers of the districts. In addition, the Grand Jury may investigate the books and records of any incorporated city or joint powers agency located in the county.

Click here to obtain the form to request investigation by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury. You may complete the form online, however it cannot be electronically submitted at this time.


Criminal Grand Jury

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On July 5, 2000, the Superior Court began impaneling an additional criminal grand jury, in addition to the civil grand jury. This selected criminal grand jury will be impaneled throughout the year according to the District Attorney’s needs, and shall have exclusive jurisdiction to return criminal indictments when impaneled. Such a criminal grand jury will be selected at random from the petit jury master file list in such a manner that a reasonably representative cross-section of the population that is eligible for jury service is summoned.

What Is The Los Angeles Criminal Grand Jury?

California is served by a unique system, which provides that the Criminal Grand Jury may be impaneled and empowered by law to bring indictments (which are formal charges of generally felony crimes) and also to perform criminal investigations in connection with these indictments. The Criminal Grand Jury will consist of 23 members plus a designated number of alternates.

In Los Angeles County the Criminal Grand Jury attends hearings to weigh evidence brought by the District Attorney’s Office in order to determine on the basis of this evidence whether certain persons should be charged with crimes and required to stand trial in the Superior Court. The Criminal Grand Jury is an accusatory body and not a trial jury; therefore, the burden of proof is much lower. Specifically, the Criminal Grand Jury must decide if there is a strong suspicion the individual committed the crime alleged.

What Is The Term Of Service?

Under current policy, the Criminal Grand Jury is formed monthly and the term of service should not exceed thirty (30) calendar days. You will not, however, be required to report each day. You must be available for on-call service during the thirty day period of the month to which you are summoned. If the Criminal Grand Jury is hearing an indictment on the thirtieth day, it will continue meeting until the matter is resolved. Upon conclusion of your service, you will be excused from trial and grand juror service for the next twelve (12) months.

What Are The Functions Of The Criminal Grand Jury?

The main function of the Criminal Grand Jury is to bring criminal indictments against individuals accused of committing crimes. The District Attorney or the Attorney General presents indictments to the Criminal Grand Jury. A vote of 14 or more Criminal Grand Jurors is required to return an indictment.

Who May Be On The Grand Jury?

By law a citizen eighteen years of age or older who has been a resident of the County of Los Angeles for one year immediately prior to being selected, who is a person of ordinary intelligence and of good character, and who possesses sufficient knowledge of the English language is qualified to be a candidate.

A person is not competent to act as a grand juror if any of the following apply:

(1) the person is currently serving as a trial juror or (2) has been discharged as a grand juror in any court within one year; (3) the person has been convicted of misconduct in public office or any felony or other high crimes; or (4) the person is serving as an elected public officer.

How Is A Person Chosen For The Criminal Grand Jury?

It is the intent of the Legislature that all persons qualified for jury service shall have an equal opportunity to be considered for service as criminal grand jurors in the county in which they reside, and that they have an obligation to serve when summoned for that purpose. All persons selected for the Criminal Grand Jury shall be selected at random and shall be reasonably representative of a cross section of the population that is eligible for jury service in the county. For this reason there is no mileage limitation for the Criminal Grand Jury and no excuse will be granted because of the distance from the courthouse or inconvenience to the juror.

All persons must appear if summoned. Those jurors under age 70, who have a verified medical condition or those over the age of 70 who are unable to attend the impanelment due to a medical reason may be excused by submitting a written request. All other reasons for excuse from the Criminal Grand Jury selection process must be presented to the Court when the juror appears. Additionally, all requests for postponement will be handled when the juror appears.

Criminal Grand Jury Fees And Mileage

Each member of the Criminal Grand Jury is paid $60.00 for each day’s attendance at sessions of the full Criminal Grand Jury; and for mileage at the current available rate, for each mile actually and necessarily traveled in attending Grand Jury hearings. Free parking is provided to Criminal Grand Jurors. A map to the parking lot will be provided with your summons. You will need to bring your summons with you when you appear for the first day of service to obtain free parking. Public transportation to and from a Criminal Grand Jury session will be provided, upon request, in lieu of mileage.

What Kind Of Criminal Cases Are Brought To The Criminal Grand Jury To Investigate?

Normally, felony cases are presented to a “court of lesser jurisdiction” and the judge determines if there is sufficient evidence to hold a trial. However, under certain circumstances the District Attorney may ask the Criminal Grand Jury to hear special felony cases. The Criminal Grand Jury may hear cases involving prominent public figures in order to prevent prejudicial pretrial publicity, to protect against publicity based on unfounded charges, as well as cases where victims and witnesses need to be protected. The Criminal Grand Jury rarely hears misdemeanor cases.

Additionally, during criminal investigations the District Attorney’s Office may request the assistance of the Criminal Grand Jury to subpoena needed documents or records and to question reluctant witnesses under oath. This may be true of a witness who has refused to cooperate with law enforcement investigators because he does not want to get involved, or because he is fearful of giving information except under the secret conditions of the Criminal Grand Jury hearing. A Court Reporter is present at all hearings of the Criminal Grand Jury.

Further, some witnesses agree to testify before a Criminal Grand Jury as a neutral and fair-minded body of fellow citizens not employed by law enforcement.

If an indictment is not returned, all records are kept secret and there is no publicity. Criminal Grand Jurors are forbidden to discuss their deliberations or votes with anyone outside their chambers. It is a misdemeanor for a Criminal Grand Juror to disclose any information they received in the Criminal Grand Jury chambers, until such time as the transcript of those proceedings is made public. If an indictment is returned, it is kept secret until after the suspect is arrested.

Who is the Criminal Grand Jury’s Legal Advisor?

The District Attorney’s Office serves as the legal advisor for the Criminal Grand Jury. A deputy district attorney will be available to answer questions and offer the Criminal Grand Jury legal advice. The Criminal Grand Jury may also submit questions to the Supervising Judge of the Criminal Division if necessary. Upon completion of the voir dire process and the swearing in of the Criminal Grand Jury, the deputy district attorney who serves as the legal advisor will conduct an orientation for the Criminal Grand Jury.

How Are Indictments Returned By The Grand Jury?

Criminal Grand Jury hearings are conducted in strictest secrecy. The only non-jurors who may attend the sessions are the deputy district attorney presenting the case and the court reporter. After hearing all of the evidence, the Criminal Grand Jury deliberates with no one present but Criminal Grand Jurors, and upon an affirmative vote of at least fourteen (14) members, may return an indictment. Within a reasonable time after the indictment is delivered, a transcript of these hearings is given to the persons charged.

An indictment by a Criminal Grand Jury is only accusatory and not a finding of guilt. Its standard of proof is strong suspicion; as opposed to proof beyond a reasonable doubt as required for conviction in a trial court.

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