My Turn: What is the Nevada County Grand Jury? | SierraSun.com

My Turn: What is the Nevada County Grand Jury?

Robert Coats
Special to the Sun

NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. and#8212; In Nevada County the grand jury is made up of citizens who volunteer to serve. Each year the Nevada County Superior Court selects 19 jurors from the pool of volunteers to serve for one year and#8212; from July 1st to the following June 30th.

Historically, the grand jury may be traced back to early Anglo-Saxon custom and law as a body of notable citizens who were chosen to protect the community. In California, since 1850, the State Constitution has required that each county impanel a and#8220;regularand#8221; grand jury every year.

In Nevada County, the grand jury has broad powers to investigate and report on Nevada County and the municipalities and special districts within the county. The main objective of the grand jury is to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of local government. To accomplish its objective, jurors may review any and all aspects of local government and publish reports setting out their findings and, if areas for improvement are identified, making recommendations.

Reports published by Nevada County grand juries may be found online at http://www.nevadacountycourts.com/grandjury. Copies of the final report of each Nevada County grand jury are also available at the Nevada County Library.

The issues investigated by a grand jury may be raised by citizens or jurors. A grand jury complaint form may be found at http://www.nevadacountycourts.com/services/jury_info or may be requested by sending an email to grandjury@nevadacountycourts.com or by calling 530-265-1730. Complaints received by the grand jury are acknowledged. Jurors are legally required to keep confidential any complaint received and the identity of any complainant.

What kinds of people serve as grand jurors? All kinds. A juror should be able to be objective and unbiased when looking at the way government works. A juror needs to possess strong personal initiative and high energy to face the workload. A juror should be prepared to work cooperatively with 18 others to set and pursue common goals. Above all, a good juror is curious about how his/her government works and how it can be improved. Jurors operate under a strict code of behavior and confidentiality. The grand juryand#8217;s work is confidential and must remain so even after a jurorand#8217;s year of service is completed.

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Serving on a grand jury provides the juror a genuine opportunity to learn more about local government and to be actively engaged in encouraging local government to become more efficient and effective.

The Nevada County Superior Court is now accepting applications from individuals interested in serving on the 2012-2013 Nevada County Grand Jury. Jurors must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old and a resident of Nevada County for at least one year. An application form may be completed online at http://www.nevadacountycourts.com/services/jury_info or be obtained from the office of the Jury Commissioner at 530-265-1475. Interviews will be held in May and the new grand jury will be selected in June. The new grand jury will serve from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

Any questions concerning the grand jury may be directed to the Foreperson via email at grandjury@nevadacountycourts.com, by phone to 530-265-1730 or by mail to Nevada County Grand Jury, Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City, CA 95959.

Robert Coats is the Foreperson of the 2011-2012 Nevada County Grand Jury.