The regular civil grand jury training seminar consists of approximately twelve hours of presentations spread over two days conducted on site or via Zoom. Individual attendee registration is not required as the county pays a set fee for all attendees.
Training Seminar Content
Our training seminars are for both new and returning civil grand jurors, as well as for alternates. Our objective is to provide the knowledge and skills required by grand jurors to perform their civil oversight functions. The general session core subjects are:
Grand Jury Overview
This session orients jurors to the civil grand jury’s mission and the historical context of the civil grand jury system in California. It includes an overview of the civil grand jury year with an emphasis on what takes place during each phase of the jury’s term. It covers organization of the civil grand jury (including the responsibilities of the foreperson and the other members of the civil grand jury) and the concept of the civil grand jury as a collegial, non-hierarchical body, sharing authority and operating as a unit.
Civil Grand Jury Law
This session sensitizes jurors to the role of state law in governing civil grand jury activities. Citing specific Penal Code sections, it identifies what the civil grand jury must, may, and may not do. It provides references to case law and Attorney General Opinions useful to a fuller understanding of the civil grand jury’s powers and limitations as they pertain to its civil oversight function. The presentation also describes the accusation process for removing a person from public office.
This session describes the various local government agencies and entities that the civil grand jury is authorized to investigate and write reports about, including the county, cities, special districts, school districts, joint powers authorities, and other specialized entities. In addition, this session introduces jurors to the laws that govern these governments, including state codes, regulations, case law, and local charters and ordinances.
This session addresses the potential for juror defamation, the roles of the civil grand jury’s statutory advisors, and the transparency and ethics laws that apply to all local governments, including the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Public Records Act, and the Political Reform Act.
Civil Grand Jury Investigations
This session defines civil grand jury investigations, discusses juror conflicts and recusals, and lays the groundwork for conducting civil grand jury investigations. Other topics include deciding what to investigate, planning and organizing the investigation, and conducting the investigation – stressing verification of information through “triangulation.” The session also covers how the final report must flow directly from the investigation.
Civil Grand Jury Interviews
Civil grand jurors will learn how to plan the interview, develop questions, conduct the interview, and analyze and verify the information they obtain. The session also covers the importance of confidentiality and of determining the objectives of the interview. A portion of this session deals with proper professional demeanor, maintaining objectivity, and not jumping to conclusions. The session concludes with a video demonstration of a mock interview that highlights interviewing principles and best practices.
Civil Grand Jury Reports
This session covers the reasons for writing reports, the types of final reports, and the report format and content. It introduces the writing process, including report organization; the responsibilities of the primary writer, investigating committee, editorial committee and full panel; the time required to draft and edit the report; and the report release process. It also describes the use of exit interviews to confirm the reports’ findings. The fall Report Writing Workshops (see below) are a more intensive handling of this topic and help build the skills civil grand jurors need in order to write effective reports.
In addition to the core sessions, the seminar includes a workshop on Collegiality. Video presentations on Continuity and Detention Facility Inspections are available for viewing after the seminar, and a webinar will be available on Special Districts late summer or early fall.