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Grand Jury

Most people believe the grand jury arose as an institution in England and that is true. In the 1600s the English grand jury developed as a process to determine whether probable cause existed to believe that an accused individual was guilty of a crime. Today all states and the District of Columbia use grand juries for investigative purposes. Having ordinary citizens on grand juries is a necessary part of government to ensure that government officials effectively perform their jobs. Most people think of grand juries as being criminal investigative panels, but in California civil grand juries investigate non-criminal matters involving local government.

The Presiding Judge of the Superior Court empanels nineteen civil grand jurors to serve for one year, fulfilling the duties outlined by state law. The Presiding Judge also appoints a foreperson who presides over the civil grand jury. The civil grand jury elects other officers and organizes itself. The jurors meet in a general session twice a month. Smaller investigative committees meet throughout the week.  Additionally, jurors meet with county and city officials, visit county detention facilities, and conduct independent reviews on matters of interest or concern. Each of the working committees reports to the full civil grand jury. The civil grand jury reaches  conclusions after comprehensive study and thorough discussion of the issues. Those conclusions, may appear as part of the civil grand jury’s final report.

The civil grand jury receives complaints regarding all levels of local government. They may include, but are not limited to, allegations of misconduct by public officials or employees and complaints charging inefficiencies in local government. Any citizen may submit a complaint by completing a Complaint Form. Complaints are treated as confidential, allowing a complainant to come forward without fear of intimidation. However, with so many possible investigations, it is necessary for each civil grand jury to make hard decisions about which investigations to undertake during its term.

Any citizen may submit a complaint to the civil grand jury. All communications are confidential. A citizen may ask the civil grand jury to conduct an investigation into misconduct or inefficiencies by governmental agencies. The civil grand jury can act on complaints regarding a county department, any city within the county, and all school districts, special purpose districts or taxing districts in the county. The civil grand jury may consider complaints of willful or corrupt misconduct against public officials. The civil grand jury provides the complainant with written acknowledgement of receipt of a complaint - however, whether the civil grand jury investigates the complaint or not is confidential. The Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury Complaint Form can be found here.

Instructions for preparing the Complaint Form:

  • Include your name, address and phone number
  • Name the agency and/or person(s) you are complaining against
  • Explain the nature of your complaint and provide detailed information
  • List any other action requested or taken in an attempt to resolve the issue
  • Provide contact information of witnesses who can substantiate your complaint

You can submit the Complaint Form by mail, e-mail or in person:

P.O. Box 3387
Modesto, CA 95353
(209) 525-4252


In Person:
825 12th Street
Modesto, CA 

Early in the year, questionnaires are mailed randomly throughout Stanislaus County based on information gathered from Voter Registration and Department of Motor Vehicles records. Positive responses from people who meet the legal requirements are placed into a selection pool.  Superior Court Judges may nominate potential civil grand jurors from that pool. The selection pool may also include for consideration other interested, qualified individuals who have submitted a written application to serve. All nominated candidates are interviewed and go through a background check. A random drawing of nominated candidates is held in open court in June and a new civil grand jury is impaneled to begin its year of service on July 1.

To be considered for nomination, you must meet the following legal requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be at least eighteen years old.
  • Be a resident of Stanislaus County for at least one year immediately prior to the beginning of your service.
  • Possess intelligence, sound judgment and good character.
  • Have sufficient knowledge of the English language to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.

You cannot be considered for selection:

  • If you are serving as a trial juror in any court in the State of California.
  • If you have been discharged as a civil grand juror in any California court within the previous year.
  • If you have been convicted of malfeasance in office or any other high crime.
  • If you are serving as an elected public officer.

The Civil Grand Jury Application form can be downloaded here.

Mail your completed application to:
Stanislaus County
Civil Grand Jury Office
P.O. Box 3387
Modesto, CA 95353

Or deliver to:
Stanislaus County
Civil Grand Jury Office
825 12th Street
Modesto, CA 

Or email to:

The Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury investigates the operations of local government. Predominant functions of the civil grand jury include:

Local government oversight:

The civil grand jury may examine all aspects of local government - the county, the cities within the county, school districts and special districts - to ensure the best interests of Stanislaus County citizens are being served. The civil grand jury reviews and evaluates procedures, methods, and systems used by local government to determine whether more efficient and economical programs may be employed.

The civil grand jury may:

  • Inspect and audit books, records, and financial expenditures to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent.
  • Inspect financial records of local government districts in Stanislaus County.
  • Inquire into the conditions of prisons, jails, and detention centers.
  • Inquire into any charges of willful misconduct in office by public officials.

Civil grand jury service is a volunteer position with a modest quarterly stipend for meetings. Civil grand jury service generally involves about ten hours a week. Members receive a wealth of experience and provide a vital service to the citizens of their community. A civil grand juror should:

  • Be open-minded.
  • Have an interest in local government and community affairs.
  • Have skill in working productively with others in a group setting where respect and patience are essential.
  • Have skill and experience in fact-finding, investigative techniques and report writing.

The benefits of being a civil grand juror are many:

  • The satisfaction and pride of doing an important job.
  • Being a member of a respected panel.
  • Becoming part of a body of people with the unique authority to observe local government workings not available to most county citizens.
  • The opportunity to make a difference for your community.

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