The Civil Grand Jury is a judicial body composed of 19 citizens. It is impaneled to act as an “arm of the court,” as authorized by the State Constitution, to be a voice of the people, and conscience of the community.
Forty-two states have some form of Grand Jury. California is still one of the states that allows prosecution to be initiated by either a Criminal Grand Jury indictment or judicial preliminary hearing.
California impanels County Civil Grand Juries every year to conduct civil investigations of county and city government and to hear evidence to make recommendations or to decide whether to return indictments. In Merced County, if indictments need to be made, a separate criminal grand jury is impaneled.