Grand jury selection set for July 18

Douglas County district judges David Gamble and Michael Gibbons are to select a grand jury July 18 from a list of 60 residents who indicated they were willing to serve for the next six months as the panel examines county government.

"We think we have enough folks now," Gamble said Monday. "It required a lot of notices - several batches of 50 names."

Because of the length of the commitment, service on a grand jury is voluntary. People who receive questionnaires for service may decline if their work or family schedules are too demanding.

To be a grand juror, a person must be a qualified elector in Douglas County. The jury is under the supervision of the district judges.

The judges plan to select 17 grand jurors and 19 alternates.

"They pretty much run the show themselves," Gamble said. "We like to see them done within six months and hope they will have issued their report in the spring," Gamble said.

People interested in presenting issues to the grand jury can find forms at Douglas County's libraries and clerks' offices in Minden and Stateline after the jury is selected.

"The person has to identify themselves and the form gives the grand jury information they need to determine if they want to examine an issue. The forms are designed to provide an avenue for people to attempt to correct what they perceive to be problems with local government in all its forms," Gamble said.

That includes county government, the school district and the county's general improvement districts and towns.

The county has budgeted $100,000 for the grand jury which includes jury pay of $40 a day.

"It's just seems healthy for there to be an independent review of county systems and county government on a fairly regular basis," Gamble said. "We weigh the expense against the benefit."

While the judges supervise the jury, they can't tell the panelists what to do.

"We help when they ask us to," he said. "Other than moving them along if they seem to be stuck or if they need direction, we don't do a whole bunch."

Jurors are allowed to hire their own lawyers and other experts or consultants. They usually form subcommittees to examine particular issues.

Typically, Gamble said, jurors meet in the evenings, but subcommittees can meet any time. He said the jury meets as a whole monthly to review their progress.

The grand jury also has the authority to act on criminal indictments for the district attorney's office.

"Their work is confidential," Gamble said. "They are not allowed to speak about what they're doing during the process nor make any proceedings public until their report is issued."

Grand juries were called in 200-01, 1993-94 and 1988-90.

"We're a little bit behind the times," Gamble said, "There hasn't been any large hue and cry for a grand jury like there has been in the past."

He said the panel would review the work of past grand juries as a starting point.

"That gives them an idea of what is expected," he said.

"At the end, everybody pretty much agrees that it was a useful process. That is the part I am excited about," Gamble said.


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