Grand Jury Overview
The Modoc Grand Jury is an arm of the Superior Court, mandated by the California Constitution. The Grand Jury's primary function is to examine local government, and is sometimes referred to as the "Civil Grand Jury". The Penal Code states the Grand Jury is specifically:
Mandated to conduct civil investigations and audits of City and County Government, to insure efficient and proper operation of all local government, and to detect and expose fraud and malfeasance.
The Grand Jury addresses citizen complaints and conducts investigations, acting as a "watchdog" for the citizens of Modoc County. The Grand Jury is appointed and sworn in early July of each year and serves until June 30 of the next year.
The Grand Jury jurisdiction is limited to local governments within Modoc County, such as the Modoc County government itself, special districts, joint powers operating in Modoc County, etc. The Grand Jury has no jurisdiction over State or National government or agencies, including the "County Courts" which are now State agencies. Consequently, matters currently under litigation or the result of Court action cannot be reviewed.
The Grand Jury reviews and evaluates the performance of local government officials and entities, focusing on procedures, methods, and systems (not policy), to determine if more efficient and economical measures might be employed and if procedures are being followed. Policy is the business of elected officials and is policed by the voters directly.
The Grand Jury has three ways to exercise its powers: reports, accusations, or indictments:
- Published reports evaluate local government conditions, generally addressing specific issues, with findings and recommendations. The affected agency must comment on each finding and recommendation as per Penal Code 933.05.
- Accusations are formal written complaints accusing a government official or employee of misconduct. (Conviction results in removal from office).
- Indictments are formal charges of a person with a crime. Usually indictments are handled by the District Attorney or a Special Grand Jury rather than the Civil Grand Jury.
The Modoc County Grand Jury has not issued an accusation or indictment since the 1960's.
The Grand Jury is specifically authorized to:
- Inspect and audit local entity records, insuring proper and legal accountings of public record.
- Investigate and report on performance of special districts or commissions.
- Evaluate conditions of jails and detention centers within the county.
- Investigate charges of misconduct by public officials or employees.
The Grand Jury also receives complaints from citizens alleging mistreatment by officials, suspicions of misconduct, or government inefficiencies. While keeping all complaints confidential, each is acknowledged and considered by the Jury. Those accepted as under Grand Jury jurisdiction are investigated carefully before any action is taken.