With grand jury applications significantly down compared with past years, Orange County court officials on Tuesday issued a call for candidates so that the final panel can better reflect the area's diversity.
The Superior Court has received about 60 applications so far for the 19-member group, which starts meeting in July. In prior years, the count by year's end has been closer to 100, officials said.
"It's very important to have the jurors look like the face of Orange County," said Assistant Presiding Judge David T. McEachen. "The more applications we get, the better the representation of this county's diversity."
The panel meets in secret nearly every working day for a year, investigating county agencies, local governments and public officials.
In past years, McEachen said, the county's grand jurors have addressed management problems with the Orange County Housing Authority and the jails, security at John Wayne Airport and medical resources at juvenile justice facilities.
"The grand jury serves the community as a civic watchdog," said McEachen, who has been on the grand jury selection committee for the past decade. "They pretty much have carte blanche to ensure Orange County is running smoothly."
Grand jurors are paid $50 per day. The application deadline is Jan. 16.
Applications are available on the court's Web site at www .occourts.org, at the Jury Commissioner's Office, Room A100, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana, or by calling (714) 834-6747.
An orientation for applicants is set for Jan. 29. The selection process will follow.
Each qualifying applicant will be interviewed by two Superior Court judges, and the Orange County Sheriff's Department will begin running background checks.
Judges will submit nominations for grand jury members, and 19 will be randomly drawn from that pool.