Friday, 19 July 2024

New grand jury impaneled in Wednesday ceremony

LAKEPORT – During a brief Wednesday morning ceremony, the members of the 2010-11 grand jury were sworn in and given their charge for the coming year.

Judge Richard Martin conducted the impaneling in his Department 2 courtroom.

Selected for the 2010-11 panel are new grand jurors Michael Daugherty, Nanette Marschall and Mary Nolan, all of Lakeport; Kenneth Fountain of Lower Lake; Jay Gehrke of Clearlake; Phyllis Kelley-Howell of Kelseyville; Mary Moore of Lucerne; and Judith Stelljes of Kelseyville.

Grand jurors from the 2009-10 panel which will return for another year of service include Clearlake residents Jack Scialabba, Venoma Gill and Dave Johnson; Lakeport residents Kathleen Bisaccio, Fred Christensen, Judith Steele Lanfranco and Phillip Myers; Kevin Byrnes of Lower Lake; Gerald Morehouse of Lucerne; and Diane Trudeau of Cobb.

The remainder of the 2009-10 panel that have completed their service are Rose Marie Blackwell of Clearlake Oaks; Rudy Brunner, Marilyn Johnson, Heather Powers and Carol Vedder of Lakeport; Larry Heine of Lower Lake; Sunol Westergren of Glenhaven; and George Torngren of Nice.

Before a small audience composed mostly of the incoming panel of jurors, Martin shared a brief history of the grand jury system and explained its significance.

“This system has been around for over 200 years in this country,” Martin said.

He explained that the grand jury system is composed of citizens who act as watchdogs to help make government better.

“It's a good endeavor” that helps improve and fine tune government, Martin said.

Martin directed his court clerk to take the roll of jurors, who were then asked to stand and take an oath committing to carry out their duties in the coming year.

As part of their charge, jurors are sworn to confidentiality, and are unable to discuss matters investigated by the jury either during their service or in the future.

Once they were sworn, Martin had the group come forward and sit in the jury box.

He thanked the outgoing grand jury, noting that in the past year, “There was a lot of hard work.”

Martin said he met with grand jury Foreman Fred Christensen on a regular basis during the past year.

“It was rewarding for me to see both the foreperson and grand jurors as active as they were this last year,” he said.

Martin said the grand jury did very thorough work and wrote a good report – released earlier this month – with several committee members stepping up to write facets of the document

He called the recent report “a very good work product” that was unbiased and achieved the goal of making local government better.

Christensen offered a few words of thanks of his own to outgoing grand juror Rose Marie Blackwell, who was present for the swearing in.

Martin reappointed Christensen as foreperson in the coming year, noting his collegial personality and ability to work with people.

Looking on during the empaneling ceremony were Commissioner Vincent Lechowick of Department A, County Clerk Pam Cochrane, Jury Commissioner Yolanda Rosas, Assistant Jury Commissioner Tina Sanderson and County Counsel Anita Grant.

Grant, Martin told the grand jurors, “is someone who you are going to need to know,” as she will be the grand jury's lawyer. She told the group she will be speaking to them on Friday morning.

Martin then excused everyone from the courtroom but the jurors themselves in order to read them their charge.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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