Our Role: Provide Advice to the Judge Relative to the Selection of New Grand Jurors

Tom Borden

For most of its existence, the MCCGJA has been assisting the Presiding Superior Court Judge by participating in the interview process that all applicants undergo before their application is approved for addition to the drawing for selection.

Several years ago, the Presiding Judge requested that we assume responsibility for all of the interviews, including written observations on each applicant.  The Judge would then use these observations in determining the qualifications of each applicant and, ultimately, the selection of the new Foreperson.

As a result of the increased responsibility to carry out this function, the MCCGJA formed a new Committee called the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC)

In order to assist the court in selecting the new jurors starting with the 2016-2017 Grand Jury, the SAC initiated a revised procedure. This was done for two reasons. First, the Superior Court Judges notified the Chapter that the Court would no longer conduct individual interviews. Second, we wanted to enhance the selection process by incorporating behavioral type questions into the interviews so that we could identify individuals whose life experiences would better qualify them for Grand Jury service.

After conducting training sessions for all interviewers (former Grand Jurors) and under the supervision of the Presiding Superior Court Judge, we organized the interviews into two phases lasting approximately one and one-half hours:

  • The first phase, facilitated by a member of SAC, consists of a problem-solving activity performed with the applicants.
  • The second phase involves individual interviews, each conducted by two members of SAC. In addition to the interviews, the applicant is given the opportunity to ask the former grand jurors questions regarding aspects of service such as the time commitment, committee structures, and beneficial skills and abilities of jurors.

The interviews are conducted over three dates in May on the Court Floor in the Marin County Civic Center. After the completion of the interview process, the Presiding Judge (with input from the MCCGJA), selects the finalists who are then invited to attend the drawing in June.