The grand jury is a constitutionally mandated judicial body charged to investigate civil matters but not criminal matters. The grand jury’s responsibilities include investigating issues regarding county government and public agencies funded by the government, and issuing reports and recommendations when appropriate. The grand jury is also mandated by law to respond to citizens’ complaint letters and to inquire into the condition and management of public detention facilities within the county.
Qualifications of a Grand Juror
Basic qualifications for the grand jury include:
Citizen of the United States
At least eighteen years of age
A resident of Fresno County for at least one year prior to being selected
In possession of natural faculties, ordinary intelligence, sound judgment, fair character
Sufficient knowledge of the English language
Desirable qualifications include:
Ability to analyze facts
Respect and objectivity concerning the opinions of others
Ability to work cooperatively with others
Ability to express oneself clearly
Experience in report writing
Basic computer literacy
Demands of Grand Jury Service
Each June, nineteen citizens of Fresno County are sworn as Civil Grand Jurors for twelve-month service. Jurors’ responsibilities are time consuming, with each grand jury establishing its own work schedule. Everyone who is nominated to serve must be fully cognizant of the time involved: 40 to 80 hours per month attending meetings, conducting investigations, and working on reports. Grand jury members receive a per diem of $15.00 per day and roundtrip mileage at the standard Federal rate. Each prospective nominee should sincerely and thoughtfully weigh all family, personal, and business obligations before accepting this nomination.
Prospective grand jurors may be interviewed by a Superior Court Judge and all are required to have a criminal background check. The judges will consider all prospective grand jury nominees, but only thirty nominations will be made. Those nominated for service will be invited to attend an impanelment and swearing-in ceremony. Names are drawn at random to complete the nineteen-member jury.
For additional information, contact the Juror Services Manager at the Fresno County Courthouse, 1100 Van Ness Avenue, Fresno, California 93724-0002 or call (559) 457-1605.
Comments from former Grand Jurors
Each and every citizen of the County of Fresno would benefit from the experience of learning, in great depth, the operations of governments within the County. The experience is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you investigate and find wrongdoing by employees, managers and elected officials, but on the other you learn that the vast majority of government employees are intelligent, hardworking, dedicated and honest. These are people who could work for anyone in the private sector, but choose to work for government. The good employees outnumber the bad 9 to 1 and provided me with great hope that the quality of these people and the Grand Jury oversight is the best hope that government will operate in an honest, efficient and effective manner in spite of elected officials.
2000-2001 Fresno County Grand Jury
2001-2002 Fresno County Grand Jury Foreman
It was an honor to be a Grand Jury member in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. The experience of working with 19 people of different backgrounds, each one having a different opinion, but working for the same goal to better Fresno City and Fresno County. As a Grand Jury member you learn something new every day. You are the civil watchdog for the City and County government. As Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever does."
2006-2007 & 2007-2008
Fresno County Grand Jury
As I reflect on the year I served on the Fresno County Grand Jury, I have come to appreciate what an indispensable part it is of American government. The Grand Jury investigates and monitors the performance of county, cities and local government entities and recommends ways to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. Serving on the grand jury gives one the opportunity to make local government more transparent, responsive, and effective. The grand jury is the direct link between the citizenry and their local government. As a former grand juror, I can attest that serving on the grand jury is an exciting and rewarding experience that renders an invaluable public service. I encourage all civic-minded residents to consider serving on the Fresno County Grand Jury.
2003-2004 Fresno County Grand Jury
I learned a lot of good information on how the City and County of Fresno work, why things happen or don't happen and what influence the grand jury can have in their particular areas.
2005-2006 & 2006-2007
Fresno County Grand Jury
I found it to be very interesting experience and certainly learned a great deal about our local governments. I do find that I follow the local news stories more closely than prior to my Grand Jury service. I do recommend the experience to others that I think would be an asset to the Grand Jury.