by Candace Anderson
Have you ever wanted to help local government become more effective? Consider applying to be a Civil Grand Juror. Dedicated community volunteers are needed to serve on the next Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury. The Superior Court is accepting applications for Civil Grand Jury service for the 2016-2017 term now through the end of March.
The Civil Grand Jury is tasked with investigating and reporting on the operations of local government. The Grand Jury’s fact-finding efforts result in written reports which contain specific recommendations aimed at identifying problems and offering recommendations for improving government operations and enhancing responsiveness. In this way, the Grand Jury acts as a representative of county residents in promoting government accountability.
Every effort is made to ensure that the Grand Jury reflects the makeup of the residents of the county. Grand Jurors are agents of change in their communities. They come from all walks of life. They bring with them a broad range of interests, talents and life experiences, but they share a dedication to democratic ideals and a willingness to devote their time and energies to matters of civic importance.
Civil Grand Jurors are appointed by the Superior Court to serve a 1-year term, from July 1 through June 30. Individuals may be recommended by the Judges of the Superior Court or may volunteer to serve. Each applicant is interviewed by a group of Superior Court Judges. Those applicants who are deemed qualified are placed in a pool and 19 are randomly selected as Grand Jurors. Some individuals are selected as alternates, who may be sworn-in during the term if a vacancy occurs. All county citizens have the authority to call the jury’s attention to issues within their governmental agencies that they think should be reviewed.
Individuals selected for service will be expected to be available during the last two weeks of June to meet with outgoing jurors, tour county facilities, meet with department heads, become familiar with their colleagues, learn about juror responsibilities and procedures, and select committees on which they will serve.
A person qualified to be a grand juror must be a United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, a resident of Contra Costa County for at least one year prior to selection, and possesses a sufficient knowledge of the English language to communicate both orally and in writing. Jurors cannot currently hold an elected position. No particular background, training or experience is necessary to be a grand juror. In fact, it is the diversity of its members that is one of the grand jury’s greatest strengths.
Applicants should have reliable transportation to Martinez, and must be prepared to devote at least 20 hours per week to Civil Grand Jury service. Citizens who work should apply only if they can be released from their jobs to perform the jury duties. Those selected will be fingerprinted before the drawing.
Jurors do receive a stipend for attending full jury and committee meetings and are reimbursed for allowable jury travel; ($15 per day for committee meetings and an additional $15 per week for Plenary meetings) that amounts to $60 per week and mileage reimbursement. Parking permits are provided to park in the City of Martinez while performing Grand Jury duties.
Serving on a Grand Jury is both an interesting and gratifying way to give back to our community, and helps improve local government. Persons interested in applying may contact the Office of the Civil Grand Jury at (925) 957-5638, or visit www.cc-courts.org for additional information regarding service on the Civil Grand Jury and to obtain an application. Applications are also available in my office. The deadline to apply is FRIDAY, MARCH 31st, 2016.
My office is here to serve the residents of Contra Costa County District 2, which includes San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Saranap, Parkmead, Lafayette, Moraga, Canyon and Orinda. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can provide you with additional information on this topic or on other County issues. I can be reached at [email protected] or 925-957-8860