Judge Urges more Diversity on Civil Grand Jury

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San Francisco Superior Court judges called today for more minorities and LGBT community members to apply for the city's civil grand jury.

The 19-member citizen panel, which is selected by the court to investigate the city's government, "should have the input and views of multiple communities," said Presiding Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee.

Of the 102 applicants for last year's panel, 70 were white and only five identified themselves as gay, according to court officials.

Judge Teri Jackson, who chairs the court's Civil Grand Jury Committee, said the panels are "kind of a well-kept secret" in California's local governments.

"It's our watchdog, where citizens can actually participate," Jackson said. Beate Boultinghouse, vice president of the California Grand Jurors' Association and president of the local chapter, said the civil grand jury investigates how taxpayer money is being spent, citing reports from recent years on Municipal Railway service, technology for city workers and the Healthy SF restaurant surcharge.

The grand jury's upcoming term runs from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, with members expected to devote at least 15 hours per week to the service.

A pool of 30 potential jurors will be chosen, then 19 members will be selected randomly while the remaining 11 will serve as alternates.

Applications are due by April 15. People must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the city for a year and have a basic English comprehension, according to court officials.

More information about the program can be found by calling (415) 551-3605 or visiting www.sfsuperiorcourt.org and then clicking on the Civil Grand Jury link.


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