The grand jury is a body of 19 citizens
who are charged and sworn to investigate county
matters of civil concern as well as inquire into
public offenses committed or triable within the
county. Grand jury duties, powers, responsibilities,
qualifications and selection processes are outlined in
the California Penal Code.
The grand jury reviews and evaluates
procedures, methods and systems utilized by government
to determine whether they can be made more efficient
and effective. It may examine any aspect of county
government and city government, including special
legislative districts and joint powers agencies, to
ensure that the best interests of San Diego County
citizens are being served. The grand jury may inquire
also into written complaints brought to it by the
The grand jury functions lawfully only as
a body; no individual grand juror acting alone has any
power or authority. Meetings of the jury are not open
to the public, and discussions and voting are required
by law to be kept private and confidential.
Penal Code requires the grand jury to:
inquire into the condition and management of the
public prisons within the county;
investigate and report on the operations,
accounts and records of county officers, departments
inquire into the willful or
corrupt misconduct in office of public officers;
submit a final report of its findings and
recommendations no later than the end of its term to
the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court. Agencies
to which these recommendations are directed are
required to respond.
The grand jury
may conduct hearings to determine whether there is
sufficient evidence to bring an indictment charging a
person with a public offense; however, the district
attorney usually calls for impanelment of separate
juries drawn from the petit (regular trial) jury pool
to bring criminal indictments. The grand jury has the
power of subpoena.
grand jury chooses its officers, except the foreman,
and determines its rules of procedure. The foreman is
appointed by the court from among the jurors. To carry
out its responsibilities, the grand jury normally
organizes itself into functional committees. Areas of
focus may include administration, finance, education,
environment, health, law enforcement and social
A grand juror
must meet all of the following qualifications:
be a citizen of the United States.
be at least eighteen years old.
resident of California and San Diego County for at
least one year immediately prior to selection.
possess natural faculties of ordinary
intelligence, sound judgment, and good
possess sufficient knowledge of
the English language to communicate both orally and
A grand juror
be serving as a trial juror in any
have been discharged as a
grand juror in any California court within one year
of the beginning date of service, July 1.
have been convicted of malfeasance in office,
any felony or other high crime.
as an elected public officer.
Other desirable qualities:
to and concern for the views of others
skill in working with others in a group
interest in and knowledge of
skill and experience in
skill and experience in report
working knowledge of computers
general knowledge of the responsibilities,
functions and authority of county and city
The Office of the Jury Commissioner
accepts applications for grand jury service each year
usually from December 1 through the first week in
January. It reviews the applications and makes
available to the court a list of qualified applicants.
Each of the Superior Court judges may nominate up to
six people for grand jury service, either from this
list or from other qualified applicants within the
county. Each nominated applicant is mailed a notice to
appear for the grand jury drawing process.
names for the grand jury list are selected from the
supervisorial districts of the county in proportion to
the number of inhabitants in each district. On a
specified date in June, random drawings are conducted
under the direct supervision of the Presiding Judge of
the Superior Court in the presence of the nominees.
First, a pool of 30 names is drawn. Then, the names of
the 19 people who will compose the grand jury are
drawn at random from this pool. Finally, the remaining
11 names are drawn from the pool and ranked in order
drawn to form the alternate list. If a selected juror
is unable to serve, a replacement is named from the
alternates according to rank.
Citizens selected for grand jury service must make
a commitment to serve a minimum of six hours per day,
four days per week for the period July 1 through June
30. It is not unusual for members to work more than
six hours in any given day and up to five days in any
given week. The grand jury traditionally does not work
during court holidays or the two-week, year-end
holiday season. Jurors are requested to take no more
than three weeks of additional vacation. Holidays and
vacation are taken without remuneration. Jurors are
encouraged not to plan vacations after March 1 because
of the usually busy schedule during the last few
months of jury service.
Grand Jurors are paid per diem based on actual days
worked (currently $25.00 per day) and provided free
parking. Mileage is reimbursed for round trip travel
between jurors' residences and the grand jury office
and for travel on grand jury business. The current
rate is 36.5 cents per mile.
An orientation in June for newly selected jury
members provides an overview of grand jury service as
well as general information about government
functions. Although attendance is voluntary and there
is remuneration, participation is strongly recommended
for jury members and alternates.
Interested citizens who meet the required
qualifications and are able to make the time
commitment should request an application from the jury
commissioner's office either by mail or by phone. If
you have questions, need more information, or would
like to request an application, please contact:
San Diego County Grand Jury 550 West C
Street, Suite 860 San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-236-2020 Fax: 619-338-8127
Qualified applicants may contact directly
any Superior Court judge to request nomination. It is
not necessary to know a judge personally.
The origin of the grand jury has been
traced to the time of the Norman Conquest of England
in 1066. Generally, historians agree that the assize
(inquest) of Clarendon in 1164 was the genesis of our
present grand jury system. In the United States,
the Massachusetts Bay Colony impaneled the first grand
jury in 1635 to consider cases of murder, robbery and
wife beating. By the end of the colonial period the
grand jury had become an indispensable adjunct of
government. The grand juries proposed new laws,
protested against abuses in government, and wielded
tremendous authority in their power to determine who
should and should not face trial. San Diego
County's first grand jury was impaneled in 1850
pursuant to the first California Penal Code. The grand
jury in California is unusual in that its duties
include investigation of county government as provided
by statutes passed in 1880. Only a few other states
provide for grand jury investigation of county
government beyond alleged misconduct of public
officials. Today, grand jurors are officers of
the court and work together as an independent body
representing all the people of the county.