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Grand Jury Reports
How to apply for the Grand Jury
Timetable of Events
What is the Los Angeles County Grand Jury
How to file a complaint with the Grand Jury


Los Angeles County
Los Angeles Superior Court and the Administratively Unified Court




HOW TO APPLY FOR THE GRAND JURY

PRIMARY FUNCTIONS OF THE GRAND JURY

The main function of the Grand Jury is to bring criminal indictments against individuals accused of committing crimes. Indictments are presented by the District Attorney or Attorney General to the Grand Jury. When hearing these matters, the Grand Jury sits as an accusatory body and not a trial jury. A vote of 14 or more Grand Jurors is required to return an indictment.

The Grand Jury also performs a significant civil function. It investigates county and city government operations. To carry out this function the Grand Jury is divided into committees, each of which concentrates on certain departments or functions of county government. These committees visit county facilities, meet with county officials, and develop recommendations for improving county operations.

GRAND JURY - FULL TIME FOR ONE YEAR

Twenty-three citizens of Los Angeles County are sworn each July to serve as Grand Jurors for 12 months. Membership on the Los Angeles Grand Jury is a full-time job. 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 Grand Jury must be prepared to devote their time and energies almost totally to the needs and demands of the Grand Jury.

Four days a week are usually devoted to the indictment function with one additional day scheduled for a full session of the Grand Jury. Thus, the Grand Jury is in session daily.

It is essential that all Grand Jurors be in attendance. A full body of jurors is vital 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 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.

HOW ARE GRAND JURORS SELECTED?

Each year every Superior Court judge may nominate two persons that he / she deems qualified to serve as Grand Jurors. Any interested citizen who wished to be considered for nomination had to submit an application before 5:00 p.m., Friday, November 6, 1998 to the Juror Services Division, Hall of Records, 320 West Temple Street, 15th Floor, Los Angels, CA 90012. Those who applied were interviewed by the Grand and Trial Jurors Committee to determine each person's qualifications. The applications of qualified individuals were then made available to all Superior Court judges for possible nomination. The First Drawing was held on Thursday, April 8, 1999, to randomly select 40 prospective Grand Jurors and 10 Alternates from the pool of nominees. A thorough background investigation of the 40 prospective Grand Jurors and the 10 Alternates was conducted by the Sheriff's Department. On Thursday, June 3, 1999, a final drawing was conducted to select 23 Grand Jurors and 4 Alternates.

THE 23 GRAND JURORS AND 4 ALTERNATES ARE REQUIRED TO COMPLETE FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FORMS, IN COMPLIANCE WITH CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE SECTIONS 81000-91015.

SWEARING-IN ON JULY 1, 1999

Jurors will be required to be present for the Swearing-In Ceremonies on July 1, to receive the Charge to the Grand Jury. In addition, all Grand Jurors must be available during the month of July. Grand Jurors unable to be present on July 1, and during the balance of July, will be permanently replaced by Alternate Grand Jurors.

GRAND JURY FEES AND MILEAGE

Each member of the Grand Jury is paid $25.00 for each day's attendance at sessions of the full Grand Jury and for each day's attendance as a member of any committee of the Grand Jury; and for mileage at a rate payable to employees of the county, for each mile actually and necessarily traveled in attending meetings of the Grand Jury, or any sessions of the Grand Jury committee duly called by the Foreperson or Committee Chairperson.

FOR FURTHER GRAND JURY INFORMATION

The Grand Jury Handbook prepared and distributed by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury provides further information on the organization and functions of the Grand Jury. If you have any questions about nomination procedures, please contact:

GRAND JURY COORDINATOR
JUROR SERVICES DIVISION
LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT
HALL OF RECORDS
320 WEST TEMPLE STREET, 15TH FLOOR
LOS ANGELES, CA 90012
(213) 974-6335




TIMETABLE OF EVENTS

1999 - 2000 GRAND JURY SELECTION
SWEARING-IN: Thursday, JULY 1, 1999
JULY - OCTOBER 1998 NOVEMBER 1998
FRIDAY -6
DECEMBER 1998
Nomination period opens for 1999-2000 Grand Jury

Open community recruitment period for volunteer candidates

Deadline for community volunteer applications

Friday-20 & Monday-23

Judges interview volunteer candidates

Process Grand Jury nomination forms

YOU MUST BE INTERVIEWED TO BE CONSIDERED FOR NOMINATION. YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED OF THE DATE / TIME OF YOUR APPOINTMENT.
JANUARY 1999
MONDAY - 11
FEBRUARY 1999
FRIDAY - 12
MARCH 1999
Begin circulating applications of community volunteers for possible nomination Deadline for Judges' Grand Jury nominations Deadline for objections to nominees

Monday-22 thru Friday-26

Judges receive final list for approval

Begin mailing letters to Nominated community volunteers

APRIL 1999
THURSDAY - 08
MAY 1999 JUNE 1999
THURSDAY - 3
First drawing for 40 nominees and 10 alternates

Friday-16

First Grand Jury orientation

Background investigation of nominees and alternates Final drawing of 23 Grand Jurors and 4 Alternatives

Friday-11

Second Grand Jury orientation (tentative)

ALL NOMINEES DRAWN IN APRIL MUST ATTEND, IF SELECTED IN FINAL DRAW, YOU MUST BE AVAILABLE DURING ALL OF JULY AND AUGUST.
JULY 1999
THURSDAY - 1
Swearing-in of the 1999-2000 Grand Jury

GRAND JURY COORDINATOR
320 TEMPLE STREET, 15TH FLOOR
LOS ANGELES, CA 90012
GRAND JURY COORDINATOR: PATRICIA CAMACHO
(213) 974-6335




WHAT IS THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY GRAND JURY?

California is served by a unique Grand Jury system which provides one Grand Jury in each county empowered by law to bring indictments (which are formal charges of major crimes) and also to perform an oversight function into the operation of county government. Federal grand juries and county grand juries in most other states are concerned only with criminal indictments and have no civil responsibilities.

Each July twenty-three citizens of Los Angeles County are sworn as grand jurors for twelve months service ending June 30 of the following year. Service is a full-time job with each Grand Jury establishing its own work schedule. Most Grand Juries meet four or five days each week from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Grand Jury offices located in the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles. A grand juror receives $25 for each day served, plus mileage and free parking.

Criminal hearings are held to weigh evidence brought to the Grand Jury by the District Attorney's Office and 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 Grand Jury is an accusatory body and not a trial jury.

Civil functions of the Grand Jury include the general business meetings and the committee meetings of the Grand Jury to inquire into and possibly investigate the operation of county 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 presented to the Board of Supervisors.

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 for one year immediately prior to being selected, who is a person or 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: the person is currently serving as a trial juror or has been discharged as a grand juror in any court within one year; the person has been convicted of malfeasance in office or any felony or any other high crime; the person is serving as an elected public officer.

HOW IS A PERSON CHOSEN FOR THE GRAND JURY?

Each year, before March, every Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County may nominate two persons deemed by the judge to be qualified to serve as grand jurors. Interested citizens may also apply as volunteers by obtaining Grand Jury application forms from the Juror Services Division at 320 West Temple Street, Los Angeles from September to November. Each volunteer applicant is interviewed by a member of the Grand and Trial Jurors Committee . The Judge assigns a qualification rating to each volunteer interviewed. The volunteers' application forms are then circulated among the Superior Court judges for possible nomination.

The Superior Court Judges try to nominate persons representing the cultural, ethnic, and diverse life experience of 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 ten 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 four alternates are drawn. The jurors are selected about thirty days in advance to give them a chance to confer with the outgoing jury and to arrange their affairs for the coming year of service. During the first week of July, the selected twenty-three jurors are sworn in and given a description of their duties and responsibilities by the supervising judge of the Superior Court Criminal Division.

HOW IS THE 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. In addition, the Grand Jury has a full-time staff of county and/or court employees consisting of a deputy district attorney who acts as legal advisor, a court reporter who records all criminal hearings, an investigator, and an executive secretary. The Grand Jury may also ask advice of the County Counsel on civil matters and discuss problems with the presiding judge of the Superior Court and the supervising judge of the Criminal Division. In any matters which might not be properly answered by the District Attorney or County Counsel, the Grand Jury may request advice from the State Attorney General.

HOW ARE INDICTMENTS RETURNED BY THE GRAND JURY?

California Grand Juries have stricter rules for criminal cases than federal grand juries or those of other states. Criminal hearings are conducted in strictest secrecy. The only nonjurors who may attend are the deputy district attorneys presenting the case and the court reporter. After hearing all evidence, the Grand Jury deliberates with none present but grand jurors, and upon an affirmative vote of at least fourteen members may return an indictment. Within a reasonable time after the indictment is delivered, a transcript of these hearings is given to persons charged.

An indictment by a 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. In 1978, a California Supreme Court decision gave persons the right to a preliminary hearing even after indictment by the Grand Jury. As a result, the number of felony criminal cases brought to the Grand Jury by the district attorney has been reduced over the years to an extent that by 1989, approximately 20 percent of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury's time was spent in criminal hearings and deliberations. In 1990, the voters of California approved Proposition 115, The Crime Victims Justice Reform Act. One part of it overturned the Supreme Court decision which provided defendants the right to a post-indictment preliminary hearing. Currently the majority of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury's time is spent in criminal hearings and deliberations.

WHAT KIND OF CRIMINAL CASES ARE BROUGHT TO THE GRAND JURY?

Normally, felony cases are presented to a municipal court judge who determines if there is sufficient evidence to hold a trial. However, the District Attorney may ask the Grand Jury to hear special felony cases. The Grand Jury generally hears cases involving prominent public figures to prevent any prejudicial pretrial publicity or to protect against publicity based on unfounded charges. Misdemeanor cases are rarely heard by the Grand Jury.

Additionally, during investigations the District Attorney's Office will sometimes request the assistance of the 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 fears to give information except under the secret conditions of the Grand Jury.

Further, some witnesses agree to testify before the 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. Grand Jurors are forbidden to discuss their deliberations or votes with anyone outside their chambers. If an indictment is returned, it is kept secret until after the suspect is arrested.

WHO MAY ASK THE GRAND JURY FOR AN INVESTIGATION?

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

WHAT IS THE CIVIL FUNCTION OF THE GRAND JURY?

The noncriminal or civil function of the Grand Jury consists of investigation of city and county government and special districts of local government. Civil investigation results in recommendations to save taxpayers' dollars and improve public services.

HOW IS COUNTY GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATED BY THE GRAND JURY?

The 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 Grand Jury's impanelment. The audit, criminal complaints, and jails committees are considered essential by most Grand Juries because of mandates to audit the county, examine criminal complaints, and inspect the jails. An independent auditor is hired by the Grand Jury to examine the financial records and the methods of operation for specific departments that are selected by the 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 for response within ninety days. Copies of the final report are distributed to public officials, libraries, and the news media.

HOW MAY THE PUBLIC FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE GRAND JURY?

The Grand Jury wants the public to know more about its functions. Letters to the Grand Jury with specific questions will be answered. Detailed information may be found in the California Penal Code, Sections 893 through 939. By advance arrangement, school groups may be given a brief tour of the jury chambers by a deputy district attorney or a speaker may be obtained by calling the Grand Jury Office at (213) 974-3993.

For further information please contact:
The Los Angeles County Grand Jury
13-303 Criminal Courts Building
210 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
(213) 974-3993



HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE GRAND JURY

Communications from the public can provide valuable information to the Grand Jury. If the 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 Grand Jury may request additional information. If a matter does not fall within the Grand Jury's investigative authority, or the jury determines not to further investigate a complaint, no action will be taken and there will be no further contact by the Grand Jury.

The findings of any investigation conducted by the Grand Jury can be communicated only in a formal final report, which is normally published at the conclusion of the Grand Jury's term of impanelment (June 30th).

The Grand Jury has no jurisdiction or authority to investigate federal agencies, state agencies, or the courts. The jurisdiction of the 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 within 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 created 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.

To file a complaint, write to:
Los Angeles County Grand Jury
13-303 Criminal Courts Building
210 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

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