2021-22 Yolo Grand Jury impaneled – accepting citizen complaints

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Each year, counties within California are required under the state constitution to impanel a civil grand jury.

Forty-two Yolo County residents were nominated for the 2021-22 Yolo County Grand Jury term that commenced on July 1. Of the 42, 19 are randomly selected to form the civil grand jury and 11 are standby alternate jurors to be called upon should a vacancy occur due to a juror being unable to complete the term.

The grand jury performs the role of the public’s watchdog and works confidentially.

“The grand jury’s job is to oversee local governments to make them more effective and transparent,” said Lisa Klotz, who served on the 2019-20 grand jury. “Grand juries have significant power. They have the right to obtain confidential documents and to use the information in those documents in their reports.”

Jurors and witnesses are sworn to secrecy. Jurors review citizen complaints but may also determine what matters they take up to investigate. At least one correctional facility is required to be inspected during each grand jury term.

Citizens may request a grand jury investigation of a governmental agency when they feel there is an issue that needs investigation. Grand juries have the authority to interview government employees, department heads and can obtain and review otherwise confidential sensitive records and reports, such as law enforcement personnel records and internal departmental documents.

Jurors meet in a plenary every two weeks in a private grand jury room provided by the county. They organize into smaller committees to investigate. Committees are formed in detention & public safety, schools & libraries, budget & finance, health & human services, and city, county & special districts. Before any committee may investigate a matter, a super majority vote of the grand jury accepting the focus and terms of the investigation is required.

Between plenary meetings, committees meet on an as-needed basis to interview witnesses and to conduct the committee’s business and report their progress at the next plenary. A super majority vote is required for all grand jury actions.

A foreperson leads the grand jury and a legal advisor helps guide through any legal issues that may arise. The grand jury’s first line of legal advice is provided by the Yolo County Counsel. A judge of the Superior Court is assigned over the grand jury and can issues subpoenas to require unwilling witnesses to appear and/or produce documents.

At the end of each grand jury term, a consolidated report of their findings and recommendations is published. Elected officials and directors of agencies investigated have 60 days, and governing bodies 90 days, to respond. Responses are then consolidated and published into the final report and made public.

Grand jurors receive a stipend of $15.00 per meeting and roundtrip mileage reimbursement at the government rate from their homes to the grand jury room.

As for any thoughts Klotz might share with the 2021-22 grand jury, she said, “Be bold and help make Yolo County an even better place to live than it already is.”

To request an investigation or to obtain more information, visit the Yolo County Grand Jury’s website at https://www.yolocounty.org/living/grand-jury

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