Applicants sought for 2021 civil grand jury

Watchdog agency investigates local government

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Santa Clara County Superior Court

The Santa Clara County Superior Court is calling for people to apply for next year’s Civil Grand Jury—a volunteer watchdog agency that investigates local government.

Grand jury service gives citizens a chance to improve the efficiency and integrity of local government and hold elected officials accountable to the public.

A civil grand jury has the authority to inspect and audit books, records and budgets of public agencies and can also inspect local jails and juvenile detention facilities.

In recent years, grand juries have investigated San Jose’s unfunded pension liabilities, neighboring Santa Clara’s untimely and unlawful responses to public records requests and governance failures at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, to name just a few subjects. For a list of other reports produced by past grand juries, click here.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and resident of this county. Service on the grand jury requires an average of about 25 hours a week.

Because of challenges presented by the pandemic, Santa Clara County Superior Court Presiding Judge Deborah A. Ryan has decided to transition the civil grand jury from a fiscal year to calendar year term. The county Board of Supervisors approved the change, which means the next term begins on Jan. 4, 2021.

As a result of the term chance, the ceremony to discharge the current civil grand jury and impanel the next one has been pushed to Dec. 17 and will be held remotely.

“The Civil Grand Jury plays an important watchdog function for Santa Clara County,” Judge Ryan said in an announcement about the call for applicants. “It is vitally important that we have a diverse group of people with different experiences, skills and abilities who are willing to assume the important task of serving on the grand jury. We need civic minded citizens willing to critically assess the operations of local governmental entities and to recommend improvements, as necessary, to benefit our community. We are grateful to past and present grand jurors for their tremendous service and seek others who are similarly interested in serving in this capacity for the 2021 Civil Grand Jury.”

Those interested in applying before the Sept. 25 deadline may obtain an application online at scscourt.org. Questions may also be directed to Civil Grand Jury Deputy Manager Britney Huelbig at 408.882.2721 or [email protected]