RIVERSIDE – Riverside County Superior Court officials on Thursday will announce the names of 19 residents who will spend the next 12 months serving on the county’s civil grand jury, scrutinizing government operations and performing other watchdog tasks.
The individuals were nominated by judges under a process that began in January and involved background checks for all of the nominees, who must meet minimum requirements, including proof of American citizenship, English fluency and “sound judgment and good character,” according to a Superior Court Executive Office statement.
“In making judicial nominations, the court attempted to apportion the panel on the basis of gender, race, age and residency in supervisorial districts to the extent possible from among the applications received,” the executive office said.
The grand jury investigates citizen complaints about government agencies and conducts inquiries on its own initiative.
Panelists are not salaried but do receive a small per diem payment to cover expenses and are compensated for travel. They rely on the county’s presiding judge for legal assistance but are otherwise generally free to pursue whatever interests them.
In the past, juries have investigated complaints against the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Registrar of Voters, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Animal Services.
In 2014, jurors uncovered numerous irregularities in how the Board of Supervisors managed discretionary funds allotted to each supervisor, prompting several policy changes to increase transparency.
The application period for nominations to the 2018-19 grand jury will start in January.
More information is available at http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/grandjury/grandjury.shtml.