THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY GRAND JURY
The Grand Jury is part of the judicial branch of government. Consisting of nineteen citizens, it is an
arm of the court, yet an entirely independent body. The presiding judge of the superior court, the
district attorney, the county counsel, and the state attorney general act as its advisors.
The civil Grand Jury is an investigative body having for its objective the detection and correction of
flaws in government.
The primary function of the Grand Jury is to examine all aspects of county and city government
(including special districts and joint powers agencies), to see that the monies are handled judiciously,
and that all accounts are properly audited. In general, the Grand Jury seeks to assure honest, efficient
government in the best interest of the people.
The Grand Jury serves as an ombudsman for citizens of the county. It may receive and investigate
complaints by individual concerning the actions and performances of county or public officials.
Members of the Grand Jury are sworn to secrecy and most of the jury's work is conducted in closed
session. All testimony and deliberations are confidential. Breach of confidentiality is a misdemeanor
punishable under the penal code.
Grand jurors may act only through the Grand Jury as a body. Individually, they have no official
standing, power, or authority. A grand juror may take no official action without prior approval and
authorization of a majority of the Grand Jury. The foreperson is the only official spokesman for the
Grand jurors, in their official capacity, are permitted access to and have the right to inspect prisons,
jails, and other government facilities. With limited exceptions, grand jurors also have the right to review
official books and records to which other citizens are denied access. Because of their extraordinary
powers, privileges, and responsibilities, grand jurors have a special obligation to exercise their authority
and carry out their duties in a proper and responsible manner within the boundaries of the law.
Grand jurors serve for one year. Some jurors may serve for a second year to provide an element of
continuity from one jury to the next. Continuity of information is also provided by documents
collected and retained in the Grand Jury library. The penal code provides for the transmission of
information from one Grand Jury to the next.
Grand Jury service calls for diligence, impartiality, courage, and responsibility. Selection for service in
one of the greatest honors a citizen can receive. Being a grand juror provides the citizen the unique
opportunity to learn about local governments and to be of value to the communities of the county.