The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury exists in large part as the local agency that fields complaints dealing with concerns about local government or local government officials. Anyone can submit such a complaint to the CGJ. The complaint must target a Santa Clara County agency or official. This includes county government, our 15 cities, our 31 school districts and any of the county’s many special districts (such as the VTA or Valley Water District). The SCC CGJ has no jurisdiction to investigate Federal or State agencies, courts, non-governmental entities or any matters outside Santa Clara County.
1. A new Civil Grand Jury is empaneled every year, and each CGJ determines its investigations. The CGJ will respond to everyone filing a complaint, letting them know whether the CGJ will pursue their complaint (or won’t pursue). All complaints receive thorough attention.
2. Every complaint must be – and is – kept confidential. That’s not just good practice, it is the law. A violation by members of grand jury is a felony.
3. What outcome can a complainant expect from the CGJ? The Civil Grand Jury acts as a fact finder and report writer. If the CGJ decides to investigate a complaint, the end result can be an accusation against an elected government official or, more often, a detailed report with findings and recommendations about a government agency or official. The agency or official, by law, must respond to all findings and recommendations, but the CGJ has no authority to order or compel compliance with its recommendations. The Civil Grand Jury does not render criminal indictments; that’s the role of a criminal grand jury, which is an entirely separate entity. Should the Grand Jury issue a report, the names and identities of the complainants are not disclosed.
4. The CGJ term begins in January and ends the following December. Thus, complaints filed late in the term typically will be held over to the next CGJ, since investigating complaints takes months. The CGJ seldom is inundated with complaints.
5. The CGJ encourages complainants to fill out the complaint form as completely as they are able. This is key in helping the CGJ determine which complaints to investigate.
The Santa Clara County Superior Court website provides much information. Here are the English and Spanish links to the Complaint Forms for the Civil Grand Jury.
Here is the link to the CGJ section of the Santa Clara County Superior Court’s website http://www.scscourt.org/court_divisions/civil/cgj/grand_jury.shtml