The nineteen Grand Jury members are selected annually from applications submitted by County residents to serve a one-year term.
The CGJ conducts investigations based on citizen complaints and on its own initiative.
A minimum of twelve members of the nineteen must authorize an investigation. In contrast to a criminal grand jury called by the District Attorney for investigating special criminal cases, the Civil Grand Jury is authorized in conducting its inquiry to:
- Inspect and audit the financial expenditures of county and city departments and special districts to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent
- Inquire into conditions of jails and the treatment of inmates
- Inquire into the performance of any county, city, or special--district public official or employee
The Grand Jury includes four investigative standing committees: Cities and Special Districts; Law and Justice; Human Services; and: County.
Committees carry out authorized investigations under the supervision of the plenary. They evaluate the procedures, methods, and systems used by the various agencies to determine if their operations are fair, efficient, economical, and legal. Ad hoc committees are created as circumstances warrant.
Grand juries have existed in California--and in Sonoma County--since the original constitution of 1849-50. There was a gradual evolution of the process during the following 30 years that defined its basic concepts and authority. The 1872 California Penal Code and subsequent legislation in 1880 further defined the functions and scope of investigations, with additional modifications since then. Sonoma, like eighteen other counties, provides for both civil and criminal grand juries; the Superior Court renamed the County's body as the Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury in 2009 to make the distinction clear.
See the Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury site for more information and for access to individual reports and responses.
First Grand Jury to meet in the new Sonoma County Courthouse, 1910 (cstr_pho_040557)