The California Grand Jury is unique in its function and selection process compared to other juries, including petit and trial juries and federal grand juries. Each county is required by law to impanel a body of 23 or 19 members, depending on county population, to serve for a term of one year. This body is mandated to investigate and report on both criminal and civil matters within the county.
The civil, or "watchdog" responsibilities of the grand jury include the examination of all aspects of county government, including special districts, to ensure the county is being governed honestly and efficiently and county monies are being handled appropriately. The grand jury is mandated by law to inquire into the conditions and management of public jails.
Investigations may be conducted on public agencies, the administration and affairs of any city within the county, or to examine books and records of redevelopment agencies. It is also appropriate for any private citizen, county official or county employee to present a written complaint to a grand jury for investigation.