San Benito County Superior Court Presiding Judge J. Omar Rodriguez is seeking community-oriented individuals to submit applications for participation in the 2024-25 Civil Grand Jury. 

A press release from the court says the Civil Grand Jury is “an essential element of the judicial system committed to ensuring transparency and holding local governance accountable.”

The Civil Grand Jury is an official judicial body with independent authority that does not answer to administrators or legislators. Its principal purpose is to protect the public interest.

Appointment to the Civil Grand Jury provides citizens a means to participate in the affairs of the local governments, says the press release. The Civil Grand Jury is an investigatory watchdog body created to ensure that the best interests of all citizens of the county are being served by local government.

Additionally, the Civil Grand Jury is tasked with evaluating the conditions of jails and juvenile detention facilities.

Tim Newman, San Benito’s current Chief Executive Officer, emphasizes the unique opportunity for citizens to contribute to their community by serving on the Civil Grand Jury. 

“The Civil Grand Jury is a wonderful way to serve your local community,” Newman said. “The people who serve on the jury truly enjoy the experience and often volunteer to serve a second term. I would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a grand juror to take the opportunity to apply.”

To be eligible, applicants must be 18 years of age or older,U.S. citizens, and residents of San Benito County. Those selected for Civil Grand Jury service must make a time commitment of an average of 20-25 hours per week for a period of one fiscal year. The term of the 2024-25 Civil Grand Jury will begin on July 1, 2024,, and end on June 30, 2025.

Prospective applicants can access the 2024-25 application and the court’s Civil Grand Jury information near the front clerks at the courthouse in downtown Hollister, or online at:

For additional information, contact Margaret Jones-Ryan, Chief of Court Resources, for the Civil Grand Jury, at [email protected].

Applications should be submitted by April 29, 2024.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


  1. Dear Friends, Hats off for the brave citizens who volunteer to serve on the SBC Grand Jury.
    These taxpayer watchdogs certainly deserve our thanks for injecting local government with a grain of integrity. If the suggestion box is open, I’d like to offer some recommendations like the ones that I’ve offered to past SBC Grand Juries. (1) Our law has since our Revolution stood for democratic, representative government: Governance without the consent of the governed is taboo. So, since COG governs SBC’s transport policy by five unelected “directors,” as other Counties do, why do local leaders tolerate this governance abuse? (2) COG’s “directors,” 3 from County Districts, 2 from Cities, lack jurisdiction over 2 Districts, which remain unrepresentated, thus depriving the citizens of those 2 unrepresented District a voice in COG’s transport decisions, and depriving them of their constitutional right to equal protect of the law, and due process to be given a voice on the appointed joint power authority COG. (3) Voters elect Supervisors, but not COG directors, who govern COG as a stand-alone government authority, as I was told by then County Counsel while standing at BOS’ podium. (4) To protect their turf, and the vested interests who feast off the taxpayers, COG refuses to consider private sector transport options, and we suffer the consequences, like other Counties do. Take a look at the five SCC Civil Grand Jury Indictments of VTA, indicting VTA of felony abuse of taxpayers. Otherwise we will continue to see gas taxes increased so that they can fund bankrupt boondoggles. Joe Thompson (408) 848-5506; E-Mail: [email protected]; Charter Member, SBCCOG Citizens Transit Task Force, and Citizens Rail Advisory Committee; Past-Chair, Legislation Committee, Transportation Lawyers Assn. (There’s more, but I’m out of space.)

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  2. Friends, In 2008 SBCBOS voted to oppose Prop. 1A, a $10B bond measure to fund Bullet Train. But SBCCOG voted to support it. So, did SBC oppose, or support, the Supermassive Black Hole Bullet Train? If Planning Commission makes a mistake, SBCBOS have jurisdiction (power granted them by the voters) to reverse the Planning Commission’s mistake. What if COG makes a mistake? Do the Supervisors have authority to overrule COG? No, COG is a stand-alone entity of government, unlike the Planning Commission, which is a committee appointed by the BOS. Why do motorists have to pay higher gas taxes and see the unelected COG directors divert their tax dollars to transit subsidies to fund insolvent-from-conception public sector Black Holes. Do we really want the for-hire carriage of passenger business run by unelected COG directors? Who use our tax dollars to keep their boondoggles running, and paying above-market wages, salaries, pensions and benefits to special interests who control the directors? Tell me one country where this socialist method ever succeeded. More? Just read my letters to SBCCOG’s directors starting in 1999. I assume that they kept them as part of the public record. Editor of Freelance published some of them. Joe Thompson
    (408) 848-5506; E-Mail: [email protected] PS: The SCC Civil Grand Jury Report on VTA is entitled, “Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority—Taking the Public for a Ride.” I couldn’t have written a better title for it myself. jt

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