NEWS LETTERS June 2017-October 2018

CGJA Annual Meeting OCTOBER 1-2, 2018

2018 CALIFORNIA GRAND JURORS’ ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA

Report to Marin County Chapter, CGJA

By Tom Borden, MCCGJA Representative/Attendee

AGENDA TOPICS

Keynote Address:  The State Auditor and the Grand Jury Connection

Paul Navarro, Chief Deputy State Auditor, Operations

  • Mission: “Make things better”. What is an entity supposed to be doing? Make it better.
  • State Legislature directs their activity
  • Independent organization. Doesn’t report to the Governor
  • 192 employees in the office. Most are operations officers.
  • Target “local governments at high risk” Example: City of Bell-financial instability
  • Jurisdiction- 500 cities
  • Criteria for initiating audits
    • Liquidity-Is the city able to pay their bills (up to 30 cities can’t)
    • Long-term obligations- (solvency) Can they meet theses obligations?
    • Financial position-Does the city have adequate reserves? (Standard is two months, 60 cities can’t make two months, 18 have no reserve)
    • Pension costs- most critical driver of whether a city can survive.
    • Other benefits to city employees- sustainable?
    • Grand Jury reports may trigger an audit. Second most critical criteria.
  • Strong confidentiality-misdemeanor to disclose investigation
  • Audited cities must report 60 days, 6 months and one year how recommendations are being addressed.

Presentation of Excellence in Reporting Award

Winner: San Bernardino County Grand Jury Report:

“The Apple Valley Unified School District Police Department”

  • 727 cars towed for minor infractions (broken tail lights, proof of insurance)
  • State average is 50 cars per year
  • One tow company had all of the business.
  • Tow company owner was former city councilman.
  • Tow company collected $52,000 in administrative fees.

Certificate of Recognition

Winner: Contra Costa Grand Jury Report:

“Report on District Attorney Misuse of Campaign Funds”

  • A. forced to resign and lost law license
  • Resulted in 80 applicants for the next Grand Jury

Member /Chapter Forum: The Chapter-Court Partnership

Shasta County

  • Only 20 active members in chapter
  • Relies on volunteers
  • Chapter responsible for all recruitment
    • Newspaper ads
    • Posters, banners and brochures
    • Videos
  • Initiated Personal Service Agreement with Court in 2012
    • Agreement covers two years
    • Provided $5,000 of available funds over the two years
    • Renewable yearly
    • Funds come from the county and not the Grand Jury budget

Sacramento County

  • Grand Jury Coordinator- Full time position
  • Coordinator sends out 5,000 voluntary summonses to citizens annually.
  • Average results-60 applicants
  • Coordinator schedules interviews and takes care of everything.

San Luis Obispo County

  • 45 chapter members, 20-25 active.
  • Have Presiding Judge, jury commissioner and coordinator
  • Jury commissioner re-contacts all applicants following year.
  • Heavy emphasis on social programs-10 luncheons per year.
  • Recruiting-present at local clubs and organizations, etc.
  • Five years ago averaged 50-60 applications
  • Applications decreased to the extent that they had just 20 in 2017
  • Initiated use of Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) on local radio and TV.
  • Result was 70 applications in 2018 (59 of the 70 came from PSA)

Marin County

  • Outreach conducted over a dozen PowerPoint presentations at open houses and organization meetings
  • Eight advertisements were placed in the local Independent Journal
  • Three years ago Superior Court Judges discontinued individual interviews
  • Selection committee took over entire interview process
  • Moved interviews from cafeteria to Superior Court Rooms
  • Re-vamped interview process to include Behavioral questions
  • Added group activity to process incorporating interactive strategy session observed by chapter members and presiding judge.
  • Approximately 45 applicants were received in 2018 

California’s Post-Election Landscape: A partly Cloudy Forecast

Dan Walters, CALmatters Columnist

  • Most California newspapers no longer have staff at the capitol in Sacramento
  • CALMatters is a non-partisan organization
  • Provides free material to all newspapers
  • Transportation is huge issue California
  • California political groups contribute a large percentage of money to other states elections.
  • Gas tax repeal on ballot will be controversial (Brings in $5B/ year).
  • Currently state and local governments bring in $300B in taxes annually.

Panel: Marijuana Revisited

            Vern Person, El Dorado County District Attorney

            John D’Agostini, El Dorado County Sheriff

            Robert St. Pierre, Sergeant, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office

  • Legalization has created a nightmare.
  • Illegal activities are out of control
  • Mexican cartels are hiding behind legality
  • Violence and black market activity still exist at a high level.
  • As market price goes down, shipping of marijuana out of state has increased.
  • Argument that tax revenue will increase significantly is flawed:
    • Many people will grow their own weed and will pay no taxes
    • Banks are FDIC insured, therefore prohibit credit and debit card transactions involving illegal (Federal) drugs
    • Therefore all business is cash and impossible to track for tax purposes.
  • Studies have confirmed that marijuana is in fact a gateway drug
  • Legalization has caused increased use by minors
    • Studies show damaging to brains on people under 18 years old.

Repeat Offenders: Recidivism and AB 109 (Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011)

            Brandon Martin, Research Associate, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

  • State prisons are at 200% of design capacity
  • Study completed states that this must be brought down to 137% (reduction by 47,000 inmates.
  • Individuals on Post-release Community Supervision have somewhat higher recidivism than similar individuals released before realignment.
  • Individuals sentenced under 1170(h) refers to non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual felony offenders. These inmates serve their sentences in county jails.
  • Realignment did not have a consistent effect on recidivism for individuals sentenced under 1170(h)
  • Offenders who received straight sentences have the same or lower rates of recidivism.
  • The effects of realignment on recidivism vary substantially across counties.

Summary:

The conference was held over two days with approximately 50 CGJA members attending.  The most valuable and interesting agenda topics were the Member/Chapter Forum and the panel discussion on marijuana legalization. During the Forum we learned that the Shasta County Chapter was able to contract with the county to create an outreach/recruiting budget that they were able to draw on.  We now have a precedent and model for this in our efforts approaching Marin County.

The law enforcement contingent presented overwhelming evidence that the legalization of marijuana has not resulted in the intended positive results expected.  Additionally, they presented evidence that property crime increased as a result of the passage of Proposition 47.  This proposition reduced the penalties for certain lower-level drug and property offenses.

All in all I believe that this conference is worthwhile for continued representation by a member of the MCCGJA.

Tom Borden

October 4, 2018

MCCGJA 2015- 2016 & 2016-2017 Board Luncheon June 4th, 2017

We started out the month of June with a Board Luncheon at the home of Nadine Muller, Past President of MCCGJA 2015-16.  This was to honor those who served on the boards for 2015-2016 & 2016 -2017. Spouses were included.  Unfortunately, some board members were on vacation and could not attend.  It gave us an opportunity to acknowledge Gene Dyer for all the work he had done for the organization.  It was fortunate that we had this time with him as he passed away unexpectedly on June 26th.  MCCGJA Board Luncheon

Swearing in of New Jury, June 15th, at the Marin Civic Center Patio.

We received the following message from Judge Simmons:

Hi all:

Thank you so much for your continued assistance in finding good qualified future grand jury members! Your help is very much appreciated;  and I feel that many positive changes have taken place over the past year.

I know that we (the Court) have traditionally failed to express our gratitude for your hard work appropriately, and I hope that we can find a way to improve on this. In that regard, I have decided to make the selection and swearing in of the new grand jurors a more festive experience than  in the past, and I hope that you will all attend as well. We are hoping to have a gathering outside by the pond at the back end of the cafeteria. I plan to have a small table with finger foods and drinks. I would also like to take that  opportunity to thank each of you for your help and dedication to the future of our grand jury.

Please let me know if you are available to attend this event. (Thursday, June 15, 12:45)

I look forward to seeing you.

Judge Simmons

New Jury

In Memorium Gene Dyer and Wes Huss

Sadly, we lost two long-term members of our organization the past few months:

GENE DYER: June 26th, 2017

To the members of the MCCGJA:

It is with profound sadness and regret that I must announce the death of our devoted and ever constant board member Gene Dyer.

I received a call from his wife Joyce telling me that Gene died on Monday June 26th at Kaiser Hospital while being treated for a fall incurred at the Whistlestop in San Rafael.

To say that the Marin Chapter of the California Grand Jurors’ Association will miss him is an understatement. Gene was a member of the Marin Grand Jury in 1995 and has been a dedicated and diligent Board member of the Association ever since, having done a thorough job of initiating and maintaining our website all these years along with making sure all pertinent information was included in our website newsletter. In addition, and equally important, he scrupulously maintained and kept current our email list of members without which you would not be receiving this message.

Gene volunteered, without being asked, to run the projector for our Power Point presentations at each of our eleven informational meetings this spring, and, to this end, he lugged both the projector and his laptop to each meeting despite his walking difficulties.  He was a great partner in this endeavor, and I was so grateful to have had the chance to present him with a plaque lauding his years of service—this only a month ago.

Joyce tells me any funeral service will be limited to family and a few close friends with a possible Celebration of Life later.

We have been honored to have this good and trustworthy man among us these many years, so please think a good thought for Gene, for Joyce, and for their family. Like so many of you who knew him, I will truly miss him.

Jack Nixon

President, MCCGJA

WES HUSS: 1918 – 2017

Unfortunately, Gene passed away shortly after receiving the following information prepared by Sonja Morris, Wes’ wife: Saturday, 10 June 2017

Wes was the beneficiary of a long, healthful, and productive life. A major focus was his 45 years’ promoting humanitarian efforts and social justice through his work with the American Friends Service Committee.

His spirit, intellect, and wit remained vibrant throughout the three month physical decline that culminated in his demise. In this last, difficult phase he continued to endear himself to and earn the respect of those with whom he had contact.

Wes’ service as a Grand Juror, as well as his grand jury involvements and continuing relationships in the years following, were extremely meaningful to him. The1997 Marin County Civil Grand Jury’s Foreperson has submitted the following:

Wes Huss was an invaluable member of the Grand Jury. He was Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee and spent a lot of time analyzing the Grand Jury as it existed at that time. His final contribution was to be part of a committee that enlightened new Grand Juries with a training program that was far more detailed than it had been before. He also wrote a new and better manual for new Grand Jury members. In 1998 he was one of the six former GJ members who signed the request that Marin County become member of a statewide Grand Jury Association. He was active in it for many years.

For information regarding a future event in Wes’ honor, please email: CelebratingWes@gmail.com

 

What remarkable individuals; we are so fortunate that we had these two individuals as founding members of our organization.

SELECTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Over four days in May, the committee assisted Presiding Judge Kelly Simmons in selecting candidates for the 2017-2018 Grand Jury. The process was carried out in the Judge’s courtroom and jury meeting rooms.

For the second year in a row, the candidates participated in a “Brainstorming” activity that was facilitated by Rich Treadgold. Over approximately 45 minutes they were tasked with deciding on a topic that could be investigated by a grand jury. With Rich’s expert yet gentle guidance, the participants were able to demonstrate their ability to work within a group. Judge Simmons observed the activity, along with four committee members. Judge Haakenson, who will be taking over as Presiding Judge next year also observed.

Two former jurors interviewed each candidate following this activity. Behavioral questions were used in addition to the traditional ones to gain individuals specific experiences with real-life situations. This helps to identify individuals who would most likely be able to work effectively on a Grand Jury.

The drawing for the final jury took place on June 15th, near the pond outside the cafeteria at the Civic Center. Many of the Superior Court Judges attended. Judge Simmons recognized the current sitting jury as well as committee members who participated in the selection process.

The jury selected for the upcoming term ranges in age from 33 to 84. The breakdown in gender is fairly even at 10 male and 9 female on the jury and 6 male and 5 female alternates. This was the result after receiving 57 applications. Forty-seven applicants went through the interview process with the top 28 selected for the drawing (there were two holdovers). The diversity in ethnicity was greater than in previous years. Clearly, due to the diligent work of the Outreach committee the final field of candidates was well qualified.

Special thanks to the following MCCGJA members who participated in this year’s selection process:

Phyllis Berger               Laura Effel               Alberto Lozano

Tom Borden                   Nancy Frease         Penny Moreci

Dennis Brown               Linda Glasscock     Nadine Muller

Pat Burke                      Jean Gunn               Jack Nixon

Michael Chernock        Kevin Hagerty        Paul Premo

Patti Church                 Sherry Rogers         Jay Hamilton-Roth

Jackie Dagg                   Beach Kuhl             Rich Treadgold

Mary Dinday                 Sarah Loughran

Year-End Summary- Jack Nixon, President

To every member of the MCCGJA who has been engaged in the recruiting (outreach), the selection and the training which was completed Friday July 13th:

I want to offer my congratulations and sincere appreciation for your diligent efforts these last six months. In furthering the goals of the Marin Grand Jury and the objectives of our Marin Chapter, here’s what you accomplished:

Recruiting (Outreach)

  1. The placing of eight (8) quarter page ads which, thanks to our outside (and unpaid) consultant, created an improved image of the Marin Civil Grand Jury. The ads were creative, clever and noteworthy and were the most effective promotion, along with the informational meetings they publicized, of our efforts. The ads advertised the schedule of “open houses.”
  2. Eleven promotional “open houses” were held, beginning in February, which included a power point presentation designed to explain what the GJ is (and is not) and what it does.
  3. In addition, the presentation was given to several groups/clubs of 30 and more, e.g., the Chevron Retirees Assn. For his steadfast help at all of these presentations, special heartfelt posthumous thanks goes to our dedicated webmaster and member of twenty-one years, Gene Dyer.
  4. To promote the meetings, a network of Association members was created to send messages on Nextdoor to each community.  On four separate occasions, over 139,000 messages were posted.  There was considerable overlap due to the structure of Nextdoor, but this was explained in a disclaimer. No criticisms were received, and the repetition was a plus.
  5. Jay Hamilton-Roth worked with Judge Simmons to produce a professional outreach video which has been shown in the Jury room and elsewhere and which, most notably, is on the Grand Jury website and will be shown in our next recruiting efforts.
  6. These combined efforts resulted in some 55 applications, most of whom were clearly folks who could bring skills and perspective to the job.

Selection

  1. 45 applicantschose to pursue their request to serve on the Grand Jury by agreeing to the extensive interview process.
  2. Thanks to the highly organized efforts of Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) Chairman Tom Borden, 22 membersof the Association volunteered to conduct the interviews or to observe the group sessions. Volunteers were prepped in advance and were given a question format to follow, so that each interviewee was addressed in an identical manner.
  3. Rich Treadgold reprised his excellent work of leading and facilitating the group dynamics session wherein groups of six applicants were asked to agree on a subject of investigation. Observers were given worksheets to provide a format for their written comments.
  4. Judges Kelly Simmons (Presiding Judge of the Marin Superior Court) and Paul Haakenson (Presiding Judge–elect) were welcome participants in this process.
  5. These combined efforts, using our comprehensive screening protocol, led to the selection of 30 approved applicants.

Training

  1. A full week of training for both the chosen new Grand Jurors and the Alternates was organized and implemented by Training Chairman Rich Treadgold this past week.
  2. Instigated by Rich in last year’s training, the training in large measure consisted of practice in developing “Requests for Investigations” and reports plus role playing in such areas as the interviewing of reluctant or defensive interviewees.  With Rich as the consummate facilitator for group feedback sessions, the entire group discussed what they did correctly and what they could improve upon: their own consensus was that they would remember the lessons learned.
  3. In summary, the 30 Jurors and Alternates were very enthused about their training and felt positive about the work before them.

With our well-organized (thanks to Social Chair Linda Glasscock) and well-attended reception on Friday to honor the outgoing 2016-17 Grand Jury and to welcome the incoming 2017-18 Grand Jury, we have come to the close of a decidedly productive year for our Marin Chapter. So, to each of you who so willingly made a valuable contribution to this year’s accomplishments, I offer my congratulations and a hearty “Well Done!”Welcome Party