Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Functions
The Grand Jury is an investigatory body created for the protection of society and the enforcement of the law. Although the responsibilities of a juror are many and diverse, the three predominant functions include:
A. Civil Government Oversight. This is the major function of present-day grand jurors, and considerable effort is devoted to these responsibilities. The Grand Jury may examine all aspects of county and city government and special districts to ensure that the best interests of Santa Barbara County citizens are being served. The Grand Jury reviews and evaluates procedures, methods and systems utilized by county government to determine whether more efficient and economical programs may be employed. The Grand Jury is also authorized to:
- Inspect and audit books, records, and financial expenditures to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent;
- Inspect financial records of districts in Santa Barbara County;
- Inquire into the conditions of jails and detention centers;
- Inquire into any charges of willful misconduct in office by public officials or employees.
Most Grand Jury oversight findings are contained in reports describing problems encountered and making recommendations for solutions. These are released upon completion.
At the end of its term, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury issues a final report on the operations of Santa Barbara County government.
B. Investigations. The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury investigates and reports on the operations of Santa Barbara County government. The Grand Jury acts as a watchdog, ensuring public monies are spent wisely and appropriately, and that local government conducts its business in an open and transparent manner. The Grand Jury cannot investigate state or federal agencies because they are beyond its jurisdiction. It may investigate and report on the County, its elected officials and all departments; all cities within the County, their elected officials and respective departments; all special districts within the County, such as water, school, library, fire districts; and any entity that receives funding from the County. The Grand Jury is further charged with investigating individual complaints from citizens. If you have an issue with or suggestions to improve the operation of the County or any of its departments, any of the cities and their departments, or special districts you can file a formal complaint with the Grand Jury. You can contact the Grand Jury through email, phone, and postal mail.
C. Citizen Complaints. As part of the civil function, the Grand Jury receives letters from citizens alleging mistreatment by officials, suspicions of misconduct or governmental inefficiencies. Complaints received from citizens are acknowledged and investigated for their validity. Such complaints are kept confidential. If the situation warrants, and corrective action is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Jury, appropriate action is taken.
The Grand Jury issues its final report each year in late June. The report is available to all county residents, and is delivered to the news media, libraries and to heads of affected government agencies. Affected agencies are required to respond to the report findings and recommendations within 60 to 90 days. Those responses are also available to the public. The Grand Jury releases individual reports as they are completed over the year.
Grand Jurors are a diverse volunteer group of citizens from the five supervisorial districts. The community is best served by a mix of ethnic, gender, age, and economic differences. In order to accomplish the county oversight functions, committees are normally established to address:
- Law, Justice and Public Safety
- Health, Education, and Welfare
- Planning and Development
- Special Districts
The Grand Jury is responsive to the suggestions and complaints from citizens about issues the jury should investigate. Each suggestion is reviewed by the full Grand Jury, or assigned to one of the jury’s committees for consideration. You may contact the Grand Jury through mail, phone, and email. Though the jury cannot investigate every issue, every comment is duly considered. All complaints received by the Grand Jury are treated confidentially. The Grand Jury’s records may not be inspected nor subpoenaed. All Grand Jury investigations and interviews are kept confidential. File a Complaint