The Stanislaus County civil grand jury is a 19-member panel of citizen watchdogs who investigate complaints about local government, including city and county government, school districts and other agencies.
The panel's findings are nonbinding, but agencies must respond in writing. State law gives elected officials and department heads 60 days to respond, while governing boards of public agencies get 90 days.
Reports may be released at any time during the year, but the local panel typically keeps its findings confidential until the end of the term, which coincides with the fiscal year. The grand jury released six reports Wednesday — the start of the 2009-10 fiscal year — and is expected to issue one more report this afternoon.
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Stanislaus County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jack M. Jacobson selected a panel of watchdogs to serve on the 2009-10 civil grand jury Wednesday morning. Volunteers spend about 20 hours per month on the work.
Court officials interviewed 67 applicants, then used a lottery system to choose 18 grand jurors and four alternates from a pool of 30 candidates. One member of the 2008-09 panel, Michael Erat of Modesto, will return for a second year.
Twelve of the new grand jurors are from Modesto: Charles J. Blymier, Robert J. Clark, Albert G. Clark Jr., Denis D. France, Linda Hermann, Sammy Israel, Carmen Morad, William J. Parks, Maria C. Quijalvo, Kimberly Ringer, Candace L. Roberts and Robert M. Shannon.
Three new grand jurors are from Turlock: Robert L. Carlson, Keith S. Crook and Jean P. Ricardo.
The other grand jurors are Edgar O. Beatty of Oakdale, Bruce E. Blizzard of Salida and Stephanie D. Kerr of Oakdale.
Alternates are Donna J. Bridges of Modesto, Gerry J. Kilgore of Salida, Ted M. Rupert of Modesto and David L. Tucker of Riverbank.
New members will attend an orientation after the selection; they also will attend a training session in Sacramento on July 20-21.