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San Diego County Grand Jury Applications At Historic Low

The office for the San Diego County Grand Jury located on C Street downtown, ...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: The office for the San Diego County Grand Jury located on C Street downtown, Jan. 5, 2018.

San Diego Superior Court officials are worried about the low number of applications for the San Diego County Grand Jury in 2018-19.

"It’s about as low as we’ve ever seen," said San Diego Superior Court Executive Officer Michael Roddy. "Reached the point where it concerned us greatly."

Roddy said normally the San Diego Superior Court receives around 100 applications, but as of last Friday it collected just 56.

"Historically we’ve had a very good response rate," Roddy said. "This year, we’re not seeing that."

The 19-member grand jury is responsible for citizen oversight in San Diego County, looking at a variety of issues.

“Like transit districts, they’ll look at jail operations, they’ll look at probation operations," Roddy said. "They can look at county government or city government."

The San Diego Superior Court is hoping to double the amount of applications before beginning their selection process — which includes a background check and interview with a superior court judge.

“We want to make sure that people are doing it for the right reason which is to help," Roddy said. "Somebody’s not getting in with an ax to grind, or someone that has some nefarious purpose.”

To apply, requirements include being a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age and a San Diego County resident. Despite this, Roddy said most grand jury applicants are retirees.

"Because it is a time commitment," Roddy said. "I mean it does take someone who is willing to dedicate the time. Four days a week, four to six hours a day for a year”

People selected to serve on the grand jury a $25 per day stipend and have travel expenses covered. Court officials said low turnout for grand jury's is not just a local issue.

"Talking to colleagues around the state, other counties have experienced this," Roddy said. "We just have not here in San Diego. We’ve always had great participation.”

The deadline to apply is January 12. Roddy said if not enough applications are received, that deadline will most likely be extended. People interested in applying can go to sandiegocounty.gov/grandjury/.

With less than a week before applications are due for the 2018-2019 jury, San Diego Superior Court officials said just 56 applications have been collected.

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