“…(a) grand jury is a short-lived, representative, non-political body of citizens functioning without hope of personal aggrandizement. It comes from the citizens at large and soon disappears into its anonymity without individual recognition or personal reward…” –(Noah Weinstein and William J. Shaw, Grand Jury Reports—A Safeguard of Democracy, 1962, Wash. U.L.Q., 191,191.)
The earliest mentions of a grand jury appear to be from the ancient Greeks. Throughout history, there have been references to citizen groups formed for the specific purpose of hearing criminal charges and investigating civil complaints against government agencies and officials, specifically misconduct and neglect.
In the United States, Grand Juries take their authority from the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Almost every state impanels grand juries to review criminal indictments and/or make inquiries into government activities. Orange County’s first Grand Jury was empaneled in 1890. California makes criminal indictments by grand juries optional, and the Orange County Grand Jury is one of the few in the state that performs both civil and criminal duties.
A grand jury is a judicial body empowered with investigative duties. It is part of the Superior Court of California in the county in which it is convened. A grand jury is an oversight body composed of local citizens whose principal role is to investigate complaints about local governmental agencies, audit those agencies, and publish the findings and recommendations resulting from their investigations. The primary goal of a grand jury’s civil duties is to serve the citizens of the county by recommending improvements in governmental operations.
The criminal responsibility of the grand jury is to hear cases presented to it by the District Attorney and then vote to return indictments when the evidence presented meets the level of probable cause for proceeding to trial.
The 2022-2023 Orange County Grand Jury carried on the tradition of investigating civil complaints, reviewing the functions of various governmental agencies, and assisting the District Attorney by hearing criminal cases for indictment. It produced the seven investigative reports on subjects of concern to the public included in this publication. It also held indictment and investigative hearings for the District Attorney’s office.
All qualified persons are encouraged and welcome to apply for grand jury service. https://www.ocgrandjury.org/new.asp
Orange County Grand Jury 2022 – 2023 Reports in Order of Issuance
Click on the title to read the full report.
A focused look at school-aged children experiencing homelessness in Orange County, and the responsibility of the school districts to provide them an equitable education. The report also examines the impact of homelessness on the academic performance and likelihood of these children graduating from high school.
An investigation of the operations at Orange County Animal Care was initiated after a significant number of complaints were received. The recommendations in this report provide a roadmap for potential governance changes and operating improvements to enhance shelter effectiveness for the welfare of the animals.
Orange County experienced record rainfall this year yet concerns remain that the current water supplies will not be sustainable due to climate change. This report examines how water supplies are delivered and makes recommendations for a new source of water and a management structure to protect water supplies in the future.
An investigation into the impact group homes have on neighborhoods when there is an over- concentration of these homes in a particular residential area. The report identifies challenges introduced by pressure from residents, group home operators and government agencies, and provides recommendations to alleviate these challenges.
In light of the on-going problem of active shooter situations on school campuses, this report reviews safety and security procedures at Orange County public schools. The report provides recommendations for improvements which would make our schools safer for students, faculty and staff while maintaining a quality educational environment.
Orange County is a high-demand area for prostitution. This report looks at how vulnerable people are manipulated, exploited, forced into prostitution, and trafficked. It details how various Orange County agencies and nonprofits work together and recommends ways to heighten public awareness of ways to combat this crime.
The presence of fentanyl on America’s streets is a deadly threat that has quickly evolved into a crisis Orange County must face head on. This report takes a sober look at the impact of fentanyl on Orange County residents and examines the County’s efforts to address it.
Orange County Detention Center Review.
Continuity Report of Responses to Findings and Recommendations included in the 2021-2022 Grand Jury Reports.