OUR EARLY HISTORY

THE EARLY HISTORY of the MARIN CHAPTER OF CGJA

FORMATION

On August 27, 1997, the California Grand Jurors’ Association (CGJA) Board of Directors adopted new bylaws by vote of the Association’s general membership that restructured the Association to allow for Chapters governed under rules similar to CGJA’s.

Sometime in 1998, Dan Taranto, the President of CGJA, contacted John Montgomery, Marin County’s Court Executive Officer, about arranging a talk with at least 5 current Marin members of CGJA interested in an association of former (veteran) jurors. Irene Mariani apparently gave Dan a list of Marin County grand jurors from the previous 5 years. Dan also contacted Bob Abeling who, along with Sue Haas, Jack Olive, Dan Campbell and Gil Murphy spearheaded the effort in Marin. Notices of proposed meeting went to 95 veteran jurors; 63 jurors attended the first meeting, and 47 jurors attended the next month’s meeting. The consensus at both was that Marin should file to become a Chapter of CGJA.

On April 15, 1999, the CGJA approved the formation of the Marin Chapter. Bob Abeling was elected President of the fledgling Chapter (1999-2000), Sue Haas was elected Vice President, Jack Olive was elected Secretary and Dan Campbell became Treasurer, a post he held for the next 4 years. From 1985 through 1997, the Marin Grand Jury was convened for the calendar year, January 1 through December 31. Prior to 1985, the Grand Jury served during the fiscal year, July 1 through June 30. The next jury after 1997 served 18 months from January 1, 1998, through June 30, 1999; thereafter, the term of service reverted to the fiscal year.

Bob sought input from around the state. He learned that Solano used to have picnics that were attended by veteran jurors from around the state and were a good place to network. For several years Ed Schulze organized and provided abalone for the Marin Chapter’s annual picnic at Samuel P. Taylor Park.

EARLY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

One of the valuable accomplishments of the Marin Chapter was the 2001 revision of the Grand Jury Manual. The Manual had originally been prepared by Clifford S. Lund, the foreman of the 1967 Grand Jury, revised from suggestions of the 1985 and 1986 Grand Juries and again revised by Wes Huss in 1997 at the request of the Court Executive Officer. It was further revised by the 1998-99 Grand Jury under its foreman, Joe Friedman. The 2001 revision by the Marin County Grand Jury was a seminal piece of work that was compiled by Henri Lese and Wes Huss with input from Ed Schulze, Sue Haas, and Irving Golden. There have been subsequent revisions in 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007 with input from Wes Huss, Henri Lese, Mike Casey, Betty J. Mattea, Catherine McKown and Shelly Wolff.

Another Chapter accomplishment has been improving the training program. According to Sue Haas, Ed Schulze played a key role in reorganizing the training program from a three-hour non-educational session in 1997, to a five-session lecture series (about one day each) which provided the new jurors with probably too much information.

“I think that the editing of the manual and the reorganization of the training class were two of the best things we did in our first years with the new CGJA Chapter. That, and the speaker’s bureau and outreach program we put together,” said Sue Haas.

Bob Abeling contacted the Novato Public Access Television (NPAT) station to televise a program that would explain the California Grand Jury system and encourage citizens to volunteer for Grand Jury duty. Bob contacted Dr. Madalienne Peters, the President of Soroptomist International, Novato Division, because that group has supported a series of similar public service programs. Dr. Peters made the arrangements for an interview-like format and the Jury sent Sue Haas, Dan Campbell and Bob Abeling to the studio to tape the first such program in 2000.
The taping has become an annual event sponsored by the Soroptomists; a copy of each interview is then hand carried to the public access channel for scheduling at prime times in the rest of Marin County.

In 2000, the Marin Chapter hosted the CGJA’s 21st Annual Conference, which was held at the Embassy Suites in San Rafael. Bob Abeling was appointed Conference Chair and the following members of the Chapter who assisted in putting on the Conference were:

Sue Haas and Reva Saper as co-chairs for registration;
Gene Dyer as program chair;
Russ Brubaker for compiling the statistics;
Henri Lese for the program;
Barbara Chism for the name badges and place placards;
Bea Hoffman for Embassy Suite arrangements; and
Wes Huss who edited the Conference proceedings.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS HISTORY

Bob Abeling (1997-1998; 1999-2001)
Stuart Brown (2001-2002)
Russ Brubaker (1995-1996; 1996-1997)
Gene Dyer (1995-1996)
Ted Freeman (1988-1989; 1999-2000)
Jan Gross (2005-2006)
Sue Haas (1997-1998)
Wes Huss (1997-1998)
Betty Mattea (2002-2003; 2003-2004)
Reva Saper (1995-1996)
Lowell Smith (2001-2002)

This project was undertaken in conjunction with the Chapter’s 10th anniversary. Most of the information was collected from Betty Mattea’s notes from her conversation with Bob Abeling on Friday, November 28, 2008, about his recollection of how the Marin Chapter of CGJA got started. Betty received additional input from Wes Huss and Sue Haas in early December 2008. Betty’s notes were then circulated via email for more input. This was intended to highlight the Chapter’s early achievements, not to provide an exhaustive list of every accomplishment, so please forgive any omissions as they are not intentional.