Applicants Sought for Santa Clara County’s Civil Grand Jury

The Santa Clara County Superior Court is looking for volunteers to serve on the Civil Grand Jury for the coming 2019-through-2020 session.

As public watchdogs, grand jurors may examine any aspect of local government, including counties, cities, special districts, school agencies, jails and juvenile halls. Volunteers for the civilian body have the authority to inspect and audit books, records and budgets to ensure the accountability of public funds.

“Grand jury service affords citizens the unique opportunity to contribute to the efficiency of local government and to play an integral part in ensuring that government officials are accountable to residents,” according to an announcement from the courts.

In the latest session, jurors issued reports on dysfunction in the Alum Rock Union School District, the high turnover of superintendents in the Santa Clara County Office of Education and how each city in the South Bay is responding to the unprecedented shortage of affordable housing. The grand jury also looked at how local police agencies can improve outcomes involving mentally ill people, how local jails have fared in an era of reform and the rationale behind taxpayer-funded automatic election recounts.

Though the grand jury has no enforcement power, the agencies it examines must respond to each of its recommendations with formal, publicly available reports.

To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years of age, United States citizens and residents of Santa Clara County. Service on the grand jury does require a time commitment of about 25 hours a week, give or take. Candidates must set aside that kind of time for the next year to keep careful watch over various aspects of local government.

The coming one-year term starts on June 20.

“Our Civil Grand Jury plays an important watchdog function for our county,” local Presiding Judge Deborah Ryan said in announcing the call for applicants this week. “It is vitally important that we have a diverse group of people willing to assume the important role of serving on the grand jury.”

Ryan called the civilian review body “government at its finest.”

The commission, she said, comprises “civic-minded citizens who are willing to critically assess the operations of local governmental entities and propose improvements, as necessary, to benefit our community.”

Those interested in submitting an application can do so online at scscourt.org. Questions can be directed to cgj@scscourt.org or by contacting Civil Grand Jury Deputy Manager Britney Huelbig at 408.882.2721. The deadline to apply is March 29.

10 Comments

  1. > To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years of age, United States citizens . . . .

    So, HOW is the Superior Court going to determine if an applicant is qualified to serve on the Civil Grand Jury without violating state law?

    Can the Superior Court’s applicant qualification verification process also be used for immigration control, access to public benefits, and voting?

  2. They must be a citizen of the United States and resident of Santa Clara County, That’s outrageous discrimination in a place thought of so progressive.

    I demand we include illegal aliens, sex offenders, drug and weapons runners, some high tech millionaires, transgenders, drunk drivers, and at least a dozen mentally disturbed homeless people to be a fair representation of the current population of the county. No working class old white people as we need the tax money to pay for it all.

  3. Are the names of grand jurors a matter of public record?

    How can we be sure that the grand jurors are United States citizens?

    Or, are the names of the members of the grand jury secret?

    Are the rules for validating the qualifications of grand jurors secret?

  4. Had a neighbor across the street on the Grand Jury a few years back, It was very safe for awhile as here was frequently a police car parked in front of my house. Not anymore we are we live in a sanctuary city and the cops don’t show up until some one is bleeding.

  5. > To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years of age, United States citizens and residents of Santa Clara County.

    An the absence of any offers of information claiming to be authoritative, I will offer my sketchy perception of how I understand the voter/juror vetting system to work, in the hopes that anyone with real knowledge can be provoked into telling me how I am wrong.

    Just about every local and state government entity that has contact with the public has been mobilized into the “voter registration” campaign. Members of the public are nagged at every opportunity to “register to vote”. Registration consists of filling out a form giving name and address, but addresses are now optional to avoid excluding “homeless” people, or exposing people who do not want their whereabouts known for reasons you can imagine.

    The registration form contains a checkbox where the registrant certifies that he or she is a U.S. citizen. And, bingo, that’s it.

    The system ASSUMES that the registrant is truthful and there is NO SYSTEMATIC verification of claimed citizenship status anywhere else.

    Once registered to vote, you’re in. You are a United States citizen as far as the Registrar of Voters is concerned, And, I am assuming, as far as the Superior Court is concerned for the purposes of serving on a Civil Grand Jury.

    Bottom line, any qualification for any position, office, privilege, or benefit tied to U.S. citizenship as demonstrated by the mere fact of being registered to vote is totally based on the claimants uncorroborated assertion.

    “It’s true because I say it’s true.”

  6. What is true is it an honor and a privilege to serve on The Civil Grand Jury. You go through a competent vetting process and are then placed in a pool for selection. It will put your investigative and writing skills to a test and leaves no room for subjective speculation.

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