Members of the grand jury, which acts as a watchdog on government and reviews criminal cases presented by prosecutors, are selected from a pool of citizens who volunteer to sit on the panel.
The Orange County selection process contrasts with the procedures in many other jurisdictions, which cull their grand jurors from Department of Motor Vehicle or voting records.
The pool of Orange County applicants is first screened for obvious disqualifications by the Grand Jury Selection Committee, which is made up of 14 Superior Court judges.
For example, applicants must be U.S. citizens willing to dedicate a full year to grand jury service while refraining from running for public office or becoming active in an election campaign during the panel’s tenure.
The Orange County district attorney’s office performs background checks on all applicants, who are then interviewed by the judges. Judges are seeking a racially diverse group of individuals who can also bring to the panel a variety of backgrounds.
The list is pared down to six applicants from each of the county’s five supervisorial districts.
The final 30 applicants must then be approved by the entire Superior Court bench. By lot, 19 applicants are chosen to sit on the Orange County Grand Jury, while the remaining 11 applicants are appointed as alternates.
Jurors are paid $25 for each workday and are reimbursed for mileage. The 1992-93 grand jury has a budget of $259,000.