The 1999-2000 Amador County Grand Jury's term of office began on July 1, 1999 and ended on June 30, 2000. During that time, countless hours were spent by jurors in meetings, research, interviews, site visits and examination of documents. This Final Report is the work product of that effort.
To help the reader understand the function of the Grand Jury, and how it can be a force in making government more responsive and accountable to its citizens, this introductory section gives a brief history of the Grand Jury system and describes the responsibilities, goals and organization of the 1999-2000 Amador County Grand Jury.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GRAND JURY
The concept of a Grand Jury can be traced back to ancient Greece, where the Athenians first used it as an accusatory body. Through the centuries, its form has evolved, but it has always been a body charged with protecting the interests of citizens and providing a means to hold government accountable for its actions.
The first American Grand Jury was impaneled in 1635 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony to consider cases of murder, robbery and wife beating. By the end of the Colonial Period, the Grand Jury had become an indispensable adjunct of government. It was stated at that time that "they proposed new laws, protested against abuses of government, and wielded tremendous authority in their power to determine who should and should not face trial."
In California, the first Penal Code, enacted in the mid 1800's, required Grand Juries to be formed by every county to investigate local prisons, audit county books and pursue other matters of community interest. In 1880, the powers of the Grand Jury were expanded to require investigations of county government.
The present day Grand Jury in California is governed by the California Penal Code which, among other things, requires the Grand Jury to annually review county and special district operations, and to inquire into the condition and management of public prisons within the county. In addition, the Grand Jury functions as an ombudsman in its investigation of citizen complaints. Perhaps one of the greatest areas of confusion is the Grand Jury's jurisdiction over criminal matters. The answer is that it does not deal with criminal matters; it concerns itself solely with civil issues. Separate criminal Grand Juries are impaneled to deal with specific issues. If, in the course of an investigation by the civil Grand Jury, criminal activity is suspected or uncovered, the matter must be turned over to the District Attorney for further action.
GOAL OF THE 1999-2000 GRAND JURY
The goal of the 1999-2000 Amador County Grand Jury is to serve the citizens of Amador County by making their elected and appointed officials more accountable and by recommending positive changes which will result in a more effective and efficient government.
This goal is achieved in several ways:
ORGANIZATION OF THE GRAND JURY
The 1999-2000 Amador County Grand Jury consists of 19 citizens who essentially put their lives "on hold" for a year while they devoted their full energies in the service of the county's residents.
Committees were formed along functional lines to address the various issues considered by the Grand Jury. The committees are listed below, together with their stated missions:
County Management Committee. The mission of the County Management Committee is to inquire into and/or investigate the management practices of the Amador County Board of Supervisors, including but not limited to, the evaluation of procedures, methods and systems used by the Board of Supervisors and its individual members and investigate citizen complaints assigned to it by the Grand Jury.
County Administration Committee. The mission of the County Administration Committee is to review the operations of Amador County departments not assigned to other committees, review the operations of special districts falling under the jurisdiction of the Grand Jury and investigate citizen complaints assigned to it by the Grand Jury.
Audit and Finance Committee. The mission of the Audit and Finance Committee is to examine the books and records of any Amador County department and/or special purpose assessing or taxing district located wholly or partly in the county as directed by the Grand Jury, document and submit a written report of the committee's investigations, findings and recommendations, and investigate citizen complaints assigned to it by the Grand Jury.
Health, Welfare and Social Services Committee. The mission of the Health, Welfare and Social Services Committee is to review the operations of Amador County health, welfare and social services agencies, conduct investigations of such agencies as directed by the Grand Jury, and investigate citizen complaints assigned to it by the Grand Jury.
City Administration Committee. The mission of the City Administration Committee is to inquire into the operation of incorporated cities located within Amador County to ensure the best interests of the residents of those cities are being served and to investigate citizen complaints assigned to it by the Grand Jury.
Education Committee. The mission of the Education Committee is to visit each campus of the Amador County Unified School District (ACUSD) to review health, safety and related issues, review and investigate fiscal management of ACUSD, including, but not limited to grant management practices and expenditures for outside contractors and investigate citizen complaints assigned to it by the Grand Jury.
Criminal Justice Committee. The mission of the Criminal Justice Committee is to conduct inspections of all correctional facilities located within Amador County, review the operations of law enforcement agencies, monitor implementation of, and compliance with, the provisions of State and Federal Law Enforcement Grants and investigate citizen complaints assigned to it by the Grand Jury.
Edit and Review Committee. The mission of the Edit and Review Committee is to propose policies governing the format and production of preliminary, interim and final reports; update the Civil Grand Jury Handbook and submit it to the Grand Jury for approval and adoption, provide editorial and technical support to jurors and committees with respect to document production, edit all committee reports and coordinate the compilation, publication and distribution of the Final Grand Jury Report.
ORGANIZATION OF THE FINAL GRAND JURY REPORT
Although individual committees conducted investigations and compiled reports on subjects assigned to them by the Grand Jury, the resulting reports, included in the Final Grand Jury Report, were all reviewed extensively and approved by the full Grand Jury. Each individual report was also reviewed by the County Counsel and by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court.
Following the Introduction, the Final Report is divided into the four main sections listed below:
Each of these sections contains reports on governmental entities within each of those categories as well as investigations of related citizen complaints.
The final section of the Final Report are the appendices which contain an independent auditor's report and the responses to the 1998-1999 Grand Jury recommendations.