Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Lake County Grand Jury seated in Wednesday ceremony

by Elizabeth Larson - Lake County News

The newest Lake County Grand Jury was sworn in during a Wednesday morning ceremony in Lake County Superior Court.

Presiding Judge David Herrick oversaw the brief ceremony – which he called both an obligation and a privilege for the presiding judge – as several other county leaders looked on.

“It's always an honor for me to do this,” said Herrick.

The group will spend the next year investigating citizen complaints, conducting required oversight, meeting with local officials and drafting a final report.

Herrick praised the outgoing grand jury for doing an exemplary job in performing its duties. The 2011-12 grand jury’s report was released earlier this month.

Herrick thanked the grand jurors for their work, noting that sometimes there is friction between them and local officials as a result of their tasks.

“Sometimes the grand jury comes under criticism,” he said, adding that largely that criticism is unwarranted.

“It’s time consuming and it's difficult and we really appreciate people stepping up and performing this obligation,” Herrick said.

He then called forward the six grand jurors who are carrying over for a second year as part of the new jury, and had them seated in the courtroom’s jury box.

Those continuing for a second year are Luther Sweigert of Clearlake, who Herrick appointed the foreperson for the coming year; Kelseyville residents David Eichten, Margaret Maloney, Karen Miller and Beverly Patane; and Janice Pankratz of Lakeport.

“I’m doubly grateful to these folks for having volunteered to serve another year as grand jurors,” Herrick said.

A grand jury consists of 19 members; this year, the county had 24 qualified candidates, Herrick explained.

He directed the clerk to draw 13 names at random to form the rest of the working grand jury “as of today,” guaranteeing that the five not immediately seated would almost certainly end up serving in the coming year due to commitments and conflicts that he anticipated would cause some grand jurors to have to leave the body.

Herrick said it almost always happens that issues arise requiring the substitution of jurors, noting, “Last year it was the same day I swore the grand jury in.”

The 13 new jurors the clerk selected at random are Linda Conway and Dave Johnson, both of Clearlake; Kelseyville residents Godfrey Dyne and Alan Mattern; Warren Fox of Cobb; John Hart of Loch Lomond; Sorhna Jordan and Thomas Swihart, both of Hidden Valley Lake; Lakeport residents Nanette Marschall, Linda Schreiber, James Summers and Dana Thibeau; and Clifford Morgan of Clearlake Oaks.

Herrick then had them all stand for the swearing in, after which they were reseated in the box.

The judge introduced the newly sworn grand jurors to several county officials, including Judge Andrew Blum; County Counsel Anita Grant, who will be their advising attorney; District Attorney Don Anderson, who also will advise them at times in a limited capacity; Board of Supervisors Chair Rob Brown; and interim County Administrative Officer Matt Perry.

After the brief introductions, the officials and other members of the public were excused and the courtroom was closed so Judge Herrick could give the new grand jury its formal charge of duty.

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