Van De Kamp, 022484 CAAGO, AGO 83-903

Docket Nº:AGO 83-903
Case Date:February 24, 1984
JOHN K. VAN DE KAMP Attorney General
JACK R. WINKLER Deputy Attorney General
AGO 83-903
No. 83-903
California Attorney General Opinion
Office of the Attorney General State of California
February 24, 1984
         THE HONORABLE DENNIS A. BARLOW, COUNTY COUNSEL OF YUBA COUNTY, AND THE HONORABLE DARRELL LARSON, COUNTY COUNSEL OF SUTTER COUNTY, have jointly requested the opinion of this office on the following question:          May committees from grand juries of separate counties lawfully meet together and conduct a joint investigation of a multicounty taxing district which includes such counties?          CONCLUSION          Committees from grand juries of separate counties may lawfully meet together and conduct a joint investigation of a multicounty taxing district which includes such counties for limited purposes to assist their respective grand juries in the performance of their functions.          ANALYSIS          We are advised that information has been provided to members of the grand juries of two counties that misuse of district property has occurred in a multicounty special purpose taxing district which includes those two counties. We are asked whether the law authorizes committees from the two grand juries, selected by their respective foremen, to meet together and conduct a joint investigation of the district in question. It is contemplated that the two committees would hold joint meetings in which they would hear witnesses, review evidence and prepare a joint report to their respective grand juries.          Three statutes provide grand juries with authority to investigate specified matters relating to the misuse of the property of such a district. Penal Code section 917 provides:
"The grand jury may inquire into all public offenses committed or triable within the county and present them to the court by indictment."
         Government Code section 3060 provides:
"An accusation in writing against any officer of a district, county, or city, including any member of the governing board or personnel commission of a school district, for willful or corrupt misconduct in office, may be presented by the grand jury of the county for or in which the officer accused is elected or appointed. An accusation may not be presented without the concurrence of at least 12 grand jurors."
         Penal Code section 933.5 provides:
"A grand jury may at any time examine the books and records of any special-purpose assessing or taxing district located wholly or partly in the county or the local agency formation commission in the county, and, in addition to any other investigatory powers granted by this chapter, may investigate and report upon the method or system of performing the duties of such district, or commission."
         The first two of these statutes are the bases for the grand jury's accusatory function since their object is the initiation of the prosecution of individuals. Section 933.51 on the other hand represents one of the grand jury's "watchdog" or "reportorial" (see People v. Superior Court (1975) 13 Cal.3d 430, 436) functions since its object is a report on matters investigated by the grand jury.          We are asked whether the investigation contemplated may be conducted by committees of the grand jury. Our research has not revealed any statute expressly authorizing the creation and use of committees of the grand jury. However, section 916 provides:
"Each grand jury shall choose its officers, except the foreman, and shall determine its rules of proceeding."
         In our view a grand jury's rules of proceeding could well include the establishment of committees of its members to whom matters cognizable by the grand jury may be referred for investigation and report back to the grand jury. Of course, any such rules would have to be consistent with any statutes governing the grand jury. In support of this view we refer by way of analogy to legislative committees and the case of Special Assembly Interim Committee v. Southard (1939) 13 Cal.2d 497, 503, wherein the Supreme Court observed:

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