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May 31, 2023

Guest view: Why you should volunteer for the civil grand jury

San Benito County is currently recruiting grand jurors for the 2023-2024 term

The Civil Grand Jury is an essential pillar of our democracy, acting as a crucial safeguard in maintaining transparency, efficiency and integrity within local government. By holding public officials and agencies accountable to the communities they serve, the Civil Grand Jury, composed of dedicated citizens, helps to foster public trust in our democratic institutions.

There are two types of grand juries: the criminal grand jury and the civil grand jury. While the criminal grand jury is primarily responsible for issuing indictments in criminal cases, the civil grand jury focuses on overseeing local government agencies and public officials. The civil grand jury is an integral part of the state’s system of checks and balances, ensuring that local governments operate effectively and fairly.

Each California County assembles a 19-member civil grand jury, ensuring diversity from various community segments. Serving one-year terms, they investigate and report on local government operations and public entities. This process promotes transparency and accountability in public administration.

The Civil Grand Jury plays a critical role in ensuring transparency, efficiency and fairness within local government. By serving as a watchdog over public agencies and officials, it provides an independent voice to investigate and report on various aspects of government operations. Among the grand jury’s responsibilities are evaluating fiscal management, identifying inefficiencies and uncovering instances of misconduct or corruption. By carrying out these tasks diligently, the grand jury promotes accountability and bolsters public trust in the institutions that govern our communities.

Serving on the California Civil Grand Jury offers a multitude of benefits, both personally and professionally. Here are a few compelling reasons why you should consider volunteering:

Civic Engagement: Serving on the grand jury empowers you to actively participate in the democratic process, ensuring that local governments genuinely address the needs and interests of the community.

Personal Growth: As a grand juror, you will develop valuable skills in research, critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. These skills are transferable to your professional and personal life, making you a more informed and effective citizen.

Networking: Through your service on the grand jury, you will have the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of individuals, including fellow jurors, public officials, and experts in various fields. This exposure can help expand your professional and social network.

Making a Difference: Your work on the grand jury can lead to tangible improvements in local government operations, resulting in a more efficient, transparent, and accountable system for all residents.

Volunteering to serve on the Civil Grand Jury is a rewarding and essential civic duty. As a grand juror, you will have a direct impact on the quality of local government and play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the democratic process. If you are passionate about making a difference in your community and eager to ensure local governments remain accountable and transparent, consider serving on San Benito County’s civil grand jury.

San Benito County is currently recruiting grand jurors for the 2023-2024 term. Visit the court’s web page at https://www.sanbenito.courts.ca.gov/civil-grand-jury/civil-grand-jury-application for more information.

Margaret Jones-Ryan is the Chief of Court Resources for San Benito County Superior Court. 

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