[Alameda County] Civil Grand Jury Wants Tri-Valley Members

Blog note. We do not usually post routine articles soliciting grand jury members. We post this one because it emphasizes geographical distribution in seeking applicants and targets the media placement to the geographical area of concern.

The Alameda County Civil Grand Jury office would like to see more Valley residents become candidates for service on the jury.

The Valley has been underrepresented on the Civil Grand Jury over the years, said Assistant District Attorney Rob Warren, the Civil Grand Jury’s advisor.

The Grand Jury examines government, and makes recommendations to help financial efficiency. It also attempts to spot any possible signs of corruption that might be occurring, to point it out. A criminal investigation, if necessary, would be up to District Attorney or state prosecutors.

Many of the current jury members are from Oakland, or other North County cities. Two judges go over the list of applicants. and choose the candidates who will serve, narrowing them down to 25 to 30 jurors.

Technically speaking, there should be five or six jurors from each of the county’s five supervisorial districts, for even distribution. But Oakland, with portions of three supervisorial districts, often predominates, because there are not many candidates from East County or South County, said Warren.

Warren said the distance between the Valley and Oakland apparently discourages would-be candidates from applying. It’s a long drive, although the county government buildings are close to a BART station.

From time to time, the Grand Jury does visit any Valley or South County sites that it wants to look at more closely.

The Grand Jury does its own reviewing, but also responds to citizen complaints.

Ray Souza, a former member, and later foreperson on previous Civil Grand Juries, said it is up to the foreperson to determine what is appropriate to investigate. In some instances, the kind of issue at stake might fall into the state’s jurisdiction, he said.

The Grand Jury operates with four committees. They deal with education and administration, health and social services, government, and law and justice.

Findings of the Grand Jury go to the examined agencies and governments, which then reply about a month later.

February 8, 2018

The Independent

By Ron McNicoll