What is the Grand Jury?

Civic-minded citizens who have chosen to give back to their communities by collaborating with a diverse group of like-minded persons over a one-year period to evaluate the operations of local governmental entities and the conduct of public officials, and to develop practical innovative recommendations for improving government operations.

Grand Jury Mission Statement

The Grand Jury is a division of the Superior Court that keeps watch over numerous government agencies, cities and districts throughout Santa Barbara County.  A separate criminal Grand Jury is formed by random draw from trial jury lists when it is necessary to decide criminal indictments.

The opportunity of serving as a Grand Juror comes with many rewards including the satisfaction of making a worthwhile contribution to the improvement of the lives of residents in Santa Barbara County.

What does the Grand Jury do?

The Grand Jury may investigate, evaluate and make recommendations to any city, county or special district agency that receives county funds.  California law requires the Grand Jury to inspect County and city jails and detention facilities, and to review County financial accounts and records.  The Grand Jury relies on its own discretion and citizens’ suggestions to determine other issues to investigate.

Citizen's Watchdog

The Grand Jury’s broad legal authority and investigative powers allow it to:
  • Determine whether public monies are being spent wisely and for appropriate purposes;
  • Ensure Local government agencies conduct their business in an open and transparent manner;
  • Inquire into the conditions of jails, detention centers; and
  • Inquire into charges that a public official or employee engaged in willful misconduct while in office


Members of the Grand Jury are sworn to secrecy. Complaints made to the Grand Jury are kept confidential as are the identities of complainants and witnesses who testify in front of the Grand Jury. This secrecy allows complainants, including whistle-blowers, and witnesses to have confidence that their identities won’t be revealed.

Grand Jury Reports

Reports shine a light on local government operations, promote accountability, and help bring about positive change in the community. Reports may trigger media inquiries and public discussion of important issues, leading to changes that help local government address problems.

Criminal Grand Jury

The Civil Grand Jury does not hear criminal matters. If you feel you have witnessed a criminal matter, contact the District Attorney directly.