This web-based application automates the entire process of recruiting and selecting the annual civil grand jury and provides easy public access to information about the grand jury.
In 2008, the Superior Court of Monterey County took note of the time and effort involved in selecting a civil grand jury and maintaining a database of applicants. Solicitations for jury duty, notifications, application forms, and juror demographic reports were all paper-based, with various manual systems for keeping track of the data. This time- and labor-intensive procedure to manage the grand jury process is still employed by most courts in California.
In the summer of 2008, members of the jury commissioner’s office of the Monterey County court met with the court’s Information Technology Division to attempt to improve the process. They were seeking an automated way to manage the data surrounding the annual civil grand jury, for greater efficiency and lower costs. A project team was created, consisting of the civil grand jury manager and, from the Information Technology Division, a project manager, web developer, web administrator, and support team. Employing a standard Microsoft platform, the team developed an online application that meets all of the team’s goals.
The Civil Grand Jury Online Application website was launched in August 2008. Since that time, the website has brought a number of benefits to the citizens of Monterey County and to the jury commissioner’s office. For example, in 2010, the office saved an estimated 151 hours of time formerly spent working with paper-based processes. The time saved has already paid for the initial outlay of $10,000 to implement the application. In addition, the public now has easy access to all information about the civil grand jury, and applicants for grand jury duty can now apply online.
Another goal of the program team was to comply with rule 10.625 of the California Rules of Court, which aims to ensure that grand juries are made up of a representative cross-section of the county’s population. To this end, the online application asks prospective grand jurors to state what age range they fall into, their gender, and their race or ethnicity. The data is then captured in a database and made available to the public, accomplishing another aim of rule 10.625—open access to grand jury data. The online application greatly facilitates managing the data and making it available to the public.
The Civil Grand Jury Online Application site is clear and easy to navigate. A visitor can read about the functions of the grand jury as well as find answers to a number of common questions, such as who can apply for grand jury duty, how to apply, and how jurors are chosen. Users can also find grand jury reports from recent years, the demographics of the current jury, and contact information.
This program enables the court to maintain summary demographic information on civil grand jurors. The information is published on the court’s public website, fostering openness and transparency, in accordance with rule 10.625 of the California Rules of Court. In addition, the public can access all information about the operations of the grand jury, past and present, and apply for grand jury duty online.
This integrated solution has streamlined civil grand jury work processes for the jury commissioner’s office, resulting in operational efficiencies and overall cost savings to the court.
|Benefits for the Citizens of Monterey County:
||Benefits for the Court:|
- Provides easy access to information about the grand jury
- Simplifies the process of applying for grand jury duty
- Enables streamlined management of grand jury functions
- Reduces staff time spent on grand jury management
- Reduces costs
Darvin Monkemeier, Information Technology Manager