This article was contributed by BenitoLink intern Emma Hoffman.
The San Benito County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on June 29 to extend the term of the civil grand jury to Dec. 31 because of the impacts of COVID-19. The current jury convened on July 1, 2019 and was set to end its term on June 30.
The civil grand jury is a group of 19 citizens tasked with investigating the agencies, departments and officers of San Benito County. To carry out its oversight responsibilities, the jury meets several times a month. The COVID-19 shelter-in-place order resulted in a temporary suspension of the group’s operations.
On June 19, San Benito County Superior Court Judge Steven Sanders proposed extending the jury’s term. Following the action by supervisors, the jury will now be able to finish the work that was interrupted by shelter-in-place.
To facilitate this extension, the current civil grand jury will move from a fiscal year to a calendar year term. In addition, the next grand jury will also serve 18 months, at which time it will return to the traditional fiscal year term.
Previous iterations of the civil grand jury were at odds with the county over compensation for meetings and committee work. In July 2019, supervisors set compensation for grand jurors at the state minimum of $15 for each meeting, including committee meetings.
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