California Grand Jury System
The California grand jury system consists of 58 separate grand juries—one in each county—that are convened on an annual basis by the Superior Court to carry out three functions:
- Investigating and reporting on the operations of local government (which is known as the "watchdog" function)
- Issuing criminal indictments to require defendants to go to trial on felony charges, and
- Investigating allegations of a public official’s corrupt or willful misconduct in office, and when warranted, filing an "accusation" against that official to remove him or her from office.
The grand jury is well suited to the effective investigation of local governments because it is an independent body, operationally separate from the entities and officials it investigates. It conducts its investigations under the auspices of the Superior Court and has broad access to public officials, employees, records and information.
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.
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