Working as an arm of the Superior Court, the Civil Grand Jury is comprised of 19 citizens authorized to investigate local government to ensure that public agencies are working in the best interests of the public. Its independence gives the Grand Jury a unique role in securing local government accountability and in examining allegations of misconduct.
The Grand Jury’s broad legal authority and investigative powers allow it to:
Grand Jury proceedings are conducted in secret. Complaints made to the Grand Jury are kept confidential as are the identities of complainants and witnesses who testify in front of the Grand Jury. This secrecy allows complainants, including whistle-blowers, and witnesses to have confidence that their identities will not be revealed. Grand Jurors who are selected for service take an oath of secrecy for life.
Each year, the Grand Jury publicly reports on the results of its investigations. The agencies that are the subject of the Grand Jury’s investigations are legally required to respond to the Grand Jury’s findings and recommendations within 90 days.
The Civil Grand Jury does not normally hear criminal matters. In Alameda County, criminal grand jurors are selected randomly from the regular Superior Court jury pool.