The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and the California Constitution call for Grand Juries. Grand Juries were established throughout California during the early years of statehood. As constituted today, the Grand Jury is a part of the judicial branch of the government, an arm of the court.
The Grand Jury is an investigatory body created for the protection of society and the enforcement of the law. Although the responsibilities of a juror are many and diverse, the two predominant functions include:
This is the major function of present-day grand jurors, and considerable effort is devoted to these responsibilities. The Grand Jury may examine all aspects of county and city government and special districts to ensure that the best interests of Amador County citizens are being served. The Grand Jury reviews and evaluates procedures, methods and systems utilized by county government entities to determine whether more efficient and economical programs may be employed. The Grand Jury is also authorized to:
Inspect and audit books, record, and financial expenditures to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent.
Investigate and report upon the method of system of performing the duties of Special Districts or Commissions.
Inspect financial records of Special Districts within the county.
Inquire into the conditions of jails and detention centers within the county.
Inquire into charges of willful misconduct in office by public officials or employees.
Investigate and report on “questionable business practices.”
Most Grand Jury “watchdog” functions are contained in reports describing problems encountered and making recommendations for solutions. During its term, the Grand Jury issues final reports on the operations of Amador County government. The County Board of Supervisors must comment upon the Grand Jury’s recommendations.
As part of its civil function, the Grand Jury receives many
letters from citizens alleging mistreatment by officials, suspicions of
misconduct, or governmental inefficiencies.
Complaints received from citizens are acknowledged and investigated for
their validity. Such complaints are
kept confidential. If the situation
warrants, and corrective action is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Jury,
appropriate action is taken.