Staff Report

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed February to be Grand Jury Awareness Month as the county Superior Court seeks volunteers for the civil grand jury’s next one-year term

The 19 members of the civil grand jury try to shed light on issues of importance to the county’s citizens and to provide oversight of more than 70 government-run entities within the county.

Rande Downer, foreman of the 2018-19 civil grand jury, called it “perhaps one of the most demanding and rewarding civic duties that anyone can perform.”

During its one-year term, the jury may visit cities and receive presentations from county, city and special district officials. Of great importance is the receipt of a Request for Investigation (RFI) from a citizen regarding issues of concern.

The jury, after review and assessment, may assign this RFI to an investigative committee. This subcommittee is then responsible for the thorough examination of the RFI and the development of a comprehensive final report, complete with findings and recommendations for the improvement of problem areas within these governmental entities.

The jury’s final report is then presented to the presiding judge of the Superior Court and presented to the investigated entity for a response. Then it is published for public consumption.

To be selected, volunteers complete and submit an application. Qualifications require the individual to be a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age or older, a county resident for at least one year, of sound judgment without a felony conviction, and knowledge of English.

Volunteers should expect to serve about 20 to 30 hours per week and will receive a per diem of $25 and reimbursement for mileage.

The civil grand jury conducts most of its meetings at the county court complex in Santa Barbara, and one goal of the court is to increase participation by North County residents form the Santa Maria and Lompoc areas. To this end, the county has acquired video conferencing and other technology to facilitate participation without frequent travel to Santa Barbara.

Anyone who wants to volunteer or get more information can call the Jury Services Office in Santa Barbara at 805-882-4530 or in Santa Maria at 805-614-6464. Applications and additional information can be viewed on the Superior Court website,, or the grand jury website,