Appendix A - Summary of Complaints

The Grand Jury jurisdiction is limited to local government and local government officials. The one exception is the specific charge to review the function of all jails including state prisons in the county. When an issue is within the scope of the Jury’s duties but is currently in litigation, the Jury is by statute prohibited from investigating the complaint. Likewise, the Grand Jury cannot investigate "irregularities in court proceedings or erroneous actions."

The 1997/98 Grand Jury received twenty-nine complaints. The Grand Jury referred four issues received late in its term to the next Grand Jury. Also referred to the next Grand Jury were two issues arising out of the Grand Jury’s investigations. The Grand Jury initially reviewed each complaint and determined whether it had jurisdiction. If the Grand Jury determined it had jurisdiction, the jury members voted as to how to deal with the complaint. At least twelve votes were required.

Generally, the Grand Jury takes one of three actions. It sends a letter to the citizen, it investigates the issue and publishes an interim report, or it investigates and includes its findings in the results final report. The 199798 Grand Jury did not issue any interim reports.

During the year, the Grand Jury found that several complaints would never have occurred had public officials acted professionally. Citizens who felt they were treated disrespectfully by public officials filed complaints. The citizen may not have filed a complaint if treated courteously by the public official.

Complaints about officials ranged from publicly joking about a citizen’s concern to officials treating citizens in a dismissive manner. In each case, a little sensitivity by public officials would have prevented the citizen’s complaint. In our democratic form of government, public officials, and employees must treat citizens with respect.

Tables 1, 2, and 3 summarize the Grand Jury’s activities.

Table 1-Citizen Complaints

Nature of Complaint
Illegal use of fireworks and hazardous materials dumping
Zoning violation and County Counsel conflict of interest
Dispute over appointment of guardian and lack of autopsy
Claim of rude behavior by county employee
Public official made spectacle of herself at public meeting
Sheriff’s Office failed to investigate an accident involving a deputy’s son
Alleged County job application required detailed sensitive information
Numerous allegations of wrongdoing at the County Drug Abuse Agency
Abuse of power by Amador City official
Abuse of power by Ione City officials
Complaint about earlier response issued by the Grand Jury
Complaint regarding child custody case
Allegation of poor security and escapes from Mule Creek Prison
Complaint about actions of private attorney and actions of court.
Allegation of lack of enforcement of building codes by Ione officials
Allegation of numerous wrong doings relating to the Jackson Police
Alleged violation of the Brown Act by the City of Plymouth
Numerous violations of the Brown Act and other issues by Plymouth City
Misuse of county stationary by county a employee
Poor management of a private mobile home park
Violation of Brown Act by School Officials
Improper activities by Jackson Police Department
Violation of Brown Act by Plymouth Officials
Violation of civil rights of inmate in county jail
Violation of the Brown Act by the Board of Directors of Pine Grove CSD
Mismanagement of water and sewer in Ione
Complaint against Amador City officials regarding various issues about city government

Table 2- Grand Jury Actions

Summary of actions taken by Grand Jury Number
Referred to the employees’ supervisor 1
Grand Jury investigated and sent letter to complainant 13
Grand Jury investigated and included in it final report 13
Referred to the 1998/99 Grand Jury 4
Total 31

Table 3 – Actions by officials that caused a complaint

Action by elected or public officials Number
Made disparaging remarks about citizen in public meeting 1
Trivialized a citizen’s complaint 2
Used elected office to carry out vendetta against neighbor 2
Total 5

Summary of complaints and actions not included as full sections in this report:

  1. Complaint: A citizen filed a complaint about three issues. He was concerned about the use of what he thought to be illegal fireworks, the selling of fireworks within the City of Jackson, and what he perceived was hazardous materials located on a lot near his home.
  2. Action: The Grand Jury sent the citizen a letter referring him to the proper government officials with jurisdiction over the issues in his complaint.

  3. Complaint: A citizen complained the County Counsel had a conflict of interest regarding a zoning issue in the City of Plymouth.
  4. Action: The Grand Jury determined that no conflict of interest existed because the issue related to a city matter over which the county had no jurisdiction. The Grand Jury interviewed the complainant and sent a letter to him relating its findings.

  5. A citizen complained that his attorney and accountant did not provide good representation in a private legal matter.
  6. Action: The Grand Jury determined this to be a dispute between private parties and not within the Grand Jury’s authority. The Grand Jury sent the complainant a letter regarding its findings.

  7. Complaint: A citizen from another state doing research in the Amador County Archives complained about numerous problems with the Amador County Archives.
  8. Action: The 1996/97 Grand Jury reported on the problems in the County Archives and made several recommendations for improvements which the county agreed to implement. The 1997/98 Grand Jury sent the citizen a letter with a copy of the previous Grand Jury report and the county’s responses.

  9. Complaint: A citizen claimed the actions of several private attorneys, court officers, private psychologists, former spouse and others involved in a custody case committed numerous violations of law and/or failed to discharge their duties properly.
  10. Action: The Grand Jury determined it had no jurisdiction regarding court actions. The Grand Jury notified the citizen of this determination in writing.

  11. Complaint: A citizen complained about a letter written by a county employee on county letterhead that clearly related to personal business not county business.
  12. Action: After consulting with the County Counsel, the Grand Jury referred the letter and the Grand Jury’s concern to the employee’s department head.

  13. Complaint: A resident of a private mobile home park complained that the new owner has not maintained the facilities and has allowed some residents to intimidate some of the older people in the park.
  14. Action: The Grand Jury advised the mobile home park resident that this matter was not within its jurisdiction and suggested the citizen seek legal assistance.

  15. Complaint: A citizen raised an allegation that Sheriff’s deputies exhibited favoritism regarding a vehicle accident involving the son of a fellow officer. The citizen stated that no report was made of the incident.
  16. Action: The Grand Jury obtained the police report of the incidence and found the actions of the officers involved to be fair and appropriate. The Grand Jury sent a letter to the citizen explaining its findings.

  17. Complaint: A relative of a citizen claimed the court, an attorney, the Public Guardian, and others had acted improperly when assigning guardianship to another relative and failing to conduct an autopsy.
  18. Action: The Grand Jury determined it lacked jurisdiction and informed the complaining party of this in writing and recommended the individual seek legal assistance.

  19. Complaint: An unsigned complaint alleged that county employment forms asked for too complicated and personal information.
  20. Action: The Grand Jury reviewed the county’s applications, determined that they were easy to comprehend, and requested standard information. The form supplied with the complaint is used to hire law enforcement officers. The Grand Jury took no further action.

  21. Complaint: A citizen complained that an elected official made a spectacle of herself in a public meeting.
  22. Action: The Grand Jury determined that it had no jurisdiction over public officials who make spectacles of themselves. The corrective action is in the hands of the voters.

  23. Complaint: A citizen claimed that the Board of Directors on the Pine Grove Community Services District violated the Brown Act and Government Code rules governing conflict of interest.
  24. Action: The Grand Jury determined that the district operated within the guidelines of the Brown Act and that the person with the potential for a conflict of interest has since resigned from the Board.

  25. Complaint: A prisoner in the County Jail claimed to be held illegally and ignored by his probation officer.

Action: The prisoner was held in jail on a probation violation occurring in Colorado. The Grand Jury determined the inmate’s incarceration was legal. Authorities returned the inmate over to Colorado authorities before the Grand Jury could respond to him.