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The Roles of Grand Juries

August 27, 1986

As a 1985-86 Orange County grand juror, I found the articles lacking in depth, merely quoting a number of relatively unrelated sources. It impressed me with the same malaise that The Times would have its readers believe exists on many California Grand Juries.

Certainly there is a wide variation in competence in the performance of Grand Juries, particularly with respect to those of the small versus large counties. However, considering the fact that those of the larger counties are screened from candidate lists numbering in the hundreds, our Superior Court judges must be credited with reasonable judgment in their selection process.

It is a serious error to base any conclusions on performance or value rendered, simply upon that which a Grand Jury releases for publication. It is often the case that significant benefits are achieved without external publication as, in some cases, it would be very detrimental to do so in sensitive matters.

The reference to the mere two indictments handed down by the 1985-86 Grand Jury may be grossly misleading since they were subject to the cases presented to them by the district attorney who was probably constrained by the Hawkins decision. However, their corollary legal functions, such as testimony they may have heard, may well have been or will be of greater significance in the results of the 1986-87 panel.

Grand juries should not be judged solely on the quantity of their output but rather by the resulting benefits derived by the county's citizens they represent. I submit that there was no indication that The Times' reporters were qualified to make that determination.

MARWIN H. GONSIOR

Fullerton

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