About the San Mateo County Grand Jury

Article published Spring 1996

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The role of the Grand Jury is to investigate issues of local government in San Mateo County and to report its findings. Each January, a new 19-person Grand Jury is selected by a panel of local judges. The candidates must be outstanding citizens from various communities and must be personally recommended by a judge. These citizens must be able to contribute about 20 hours a week of volunteer time and they must be objective.

When the Grand Jury is first formed, the 19 members review previous Grand Jury recommendations as well as recommendations from the public. From these, the members decide what issues they will focus on. Committees are formed which become investigative teams. They read recommended background material and interview knowledgeable people in the appropriate areas.

Each December the Grand Jury publishes a report of its findings along with several recommendations. Each named governmental body must respond to any recommendation made regarding its affairs.

The 1995 San Mateo County Grand Jury made 42 recommendations. In addition to its recommendations concerning SamTrans, CalTrain and BART, the jury made recommendations regarding the closing of the courthouse in the City of San Mateo, that the County Board of Supervisors publish an annual report, and ways to improve SamTrans paratransit/Redi-Wheels programs.

The 1994 Grand Jury investigated SamTrans concerning a dramatic increase in net operating losses. The 1994 Grand Jury recommendation #34 reads:

"That the 1995 Grand Jury and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors initiate an in-depth analysis of the transportation agencies that affect San Mateo County with the purpose of reducing cost and enhancing service."

The 1995 Grand Jury followed up on the 1994 recommendation. Members of the Grand Jury interviewed SamTrans staff, transit politicians, and knowledgeable individuals and developed four recommendations.

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Last updated: October 27, 1998

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