The California Grand Jury is unique in its function and selection process
compared to other juries, including petit and trial juries and federal grand
juries. Each county is required by law to impanel a body of 23 or 19 members,
depending on county population, to serve for a term of one year. This body is
mandated to investigate and report on both criminal and civil matters within the
The major functions of a grand jury are divided into criminal indictments and
civil investigations. While both functions are executed by the same panel in
Orange County, the civil investigation portion requires the majority of time.
The civil, or "watchdog" responsibilities of the grand jury include
the examination of all aspects of county government, including special
districts, to ensure the county is being governed honestly and efficiently and
county monies are being handled appropriately. The grand jury is mandated by law
to inquire into the conditions and management of public jails.
Investigations may be conducted on public agencies, the administration and
affairs of any city within the county, or to examine books and records of
redevelopment agencies. It is also appropriate for any private citizen, county
official or county employee to present a written complaint to a grand jury for
During its term, the grand jury may select the government affairs which it
wishes to investigate. These investigations are conducted by Grand Jury
committees in cooperation with the departments and agencies of the county.
Committees may ask for support and advice from Superior Court, District
Attorney's office, County Counsel or outside consultants.
On the last day of the year of service, the grand jury is required by law to submit all final reports to the presiding judge of the Superior Court. These reports, with appropriate recommendations, include all studies and investigations conducted by the jury during its term. Each county entity investigated receives a copy of its individual report with a stipulation that response to findings/recommendations be made by the responsible governing body within 90 days. Grand jury reports are available at the Orange County Law Library and at the “Reports” link at the bottom of this page.