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What exactly is the Kern County Grand Jury?

Kern County Grand Jury
Posted at 8:27 AM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 11:27:45-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — In recent weeks the Kern County Grand Jury has released reports detailing issues within the Fairfax School District's Board of Trustees, the City of Arvin's collection of Measure L funds, and financial problems in the City of Maricopa among other reports.

But what exactly is the Kern County Grand Jury?

According to its website: "The Grand Jury is a body of 19 citizens, independent of any political or special interest group. NO law degree or specific credential is necessary to be a Grand Jury member though an avid interest in preserving honest and proper conduct of ALL governmental agencies within Kern County is essential. Grand Jurors should also possess the desire to insure that all monies, within these areas of government, are being handled prudently and in the best interest of Kern County residents. The Grand Jury’s purpose is to serve and assist the people of Kern County."

Kern County Grand Jury foreman Rose Mankoff joined 23ABC News to explain more of what the Grand Jury does:

Kern County Grand Jury tasked with looking into public entities

More About the Kern County Grand Jury

The Grand Jury has two basic functions.

  • Civil or "watch dog" function: In this capacity, the Jury has the power and duty to examine the function and performance of public offices and officers. They report their findings and can make recommendations for changes. For more information on the reporting process, see the Reports page.
  • Criminal function: In this capacity, the Jury has the power and duty to inquire into possible public offenses, misconduct in office by public officers, and to determine whether to return indictments charging the commission of felonies.

The Grand Jury:

  • Will objectively investigate, audit, or examine all aspects of County government, special districts, and cities to ensure that these bodies are being effectively governed and that public monies are being judiciously handled.
  • May subpoena persons and/or records to obtain information on subjects under investigation.
  • May issue an accusation against public officials that may result in removal from office if upheld by the Court.
  • May conduct criminal hearings to hand down criminal indictments. After hearing evidence presented by the District Attorney's office, an affirmative vote of at least 12 out of 19 jurors is necessary to indict.