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SLO County's civil grand jury is just fine 

Kevin Rice has a long, demonstrable history of attacking our county grand juries with no evidence. "Grand jurors committed perjury," as Kevin so confidently alleges ("The public should know more about grand jurors," Dec. 21), is certainly not a fact. The fact is that his allegation may be libelous—especially if he begins to name names. We should probably ask Kevin about the substantive issues he is most trying to defend/promote. Kevin has, for instance, involved himself in the Oceano Dunes air-quality issue.

Kevin's charges are just so wrong that I have to respond. I do so only as a private citizen. But I want readers to know that I served on the county grand jury and have been intensely involved organizationally at the local and state levels in supporting California's unique civil grand jury system for more than 10 years. In these 10 years, I have never seen such an egregious distortion of what grand juries do and how they operate.

Kevin alleges that grand jurors have not complied with legal requirements of the California Fair Practices Commission (FPPC) to file statements of economic interest because they have not disclosed all property, income, and business interests. County governments determine what specific information grand jurors have to provide to ensure that they are fair and objective. Our county is in full compliance. No one in the state—other than Kevin—has ever challenged this procedure. Our county grand jurors are in compliance.

State law and every grand jury in the state protect against any grand juror who might have a real or perceived conflict of interest on any grand jury investigation. This issue is an important part of grand juror training. At the start of each investigation, grand jurors discuss whether any juror might have a conflict of interest. If any does, they recuse themselves from every part of that investigation. And this recusal becomes part of the public report of the investigation. Grand jurors know that any charge of conflict of interest on any investigation might threaten the credibility of their report.

But, alas, Kevin apparently marches to his own drummer. Let's not sign on to Kevin's drummer.

It will soon be time for SLO residents to have the opportunity to apply to serve on the 2018-19 San Luis Obispo County grand jury. Civil grand jury service has been a very important part of my life. My grand jury—and every grand jury—contributes to making governments in the county even better. What better way to serve our community!

Jim Ragan


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