Saturday, 18 May 2024

New grand jury seated; latest report set to be released Friday

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The 2008-09 grand jury, with Brondell Locke returning as foreman (standing center, with blue folder) on Wednesday, July 9, 2008, in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 


LAKEPORT – As officials prepare to release to the public the latest report by Lake County's civil grand jury, a new group of jurors for the 2008-09 year was seated Wednesday morning.


The new grand jury was impaneled in a short ceremony in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport.


Also on Wednesday, the 2007-08 grand jury report was released to county department heads in anticipation of its public release, scheduled for Friday.


Several county officials were on hand to welcome and congratulate the new jurors. They included Judge David Herrick, Judge Richard Martin, county Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, County Counsel Anita Grant and Auditor-Control/County Clerk Pam Cochrane.


Judge Mann thanked the outgoing jurors and their foreman, Brondell Locke, for their service.


“You perform a very important function for the county of Lake,” Mann said.


With its report filed, the group was released from service. The 2007-08 members were Linda M. Alexander, Bob Cate, Pam Clevenger, Virginia L. Cline, Sandra Damitz, Michael H. Daugherty, Steven A. Esberg, Richard Everts, Kenneth L. Fountain, Kathleen H. Harrell, Pauline Hauser, Brondell Locke, Thomas A. Marquette, Jerry T. McCormick, Ronald G. Nagy, Carol Ripplinger, Lonny J. Rittler and Elizabeth Whittaker-Williams.


Mann lauded them for their report, which he called “the most extensive” he's ever seen.


The 254-page document is nearly 100 pages larger than last year's, with outgoing jurors saying it contained 82 reports on various issues and organizations, and also explored several complaints submitted by citizens.


They could not comment on the substance of the report, which isn't to be made public until Friday.


Mann then seated the new grand jury, which included four members – Linda M. Alexander of Witter Springs, Richard P. Everts of Upper Lake, Virginia L. Cline of Lakeport and Kathleen H. Harrell of Lakeport – who had agreed to continue their service from last year's grand jury


The rest of the new grand jury included Joy K. Allred of Upper Lake, Melissa Bentley of Cobb, Terry Bissonnette of Hidden Valley, John G. Daniels, of Lakeport, Harold Dietrich of Loch Lomond, Jesse O. Firestone Sr. of Clearlake, Dave R. Johnson of Clearlake, Loretta A. Krentz of Lucerne, Carolynn Manley of Lucerne, Phillip E. Myers of Lakeport, Charles O’Neill-Jones of Lower Lake, Lawrence Platz of Lakeport, Steven Tellardin of Kelseyville and Carol M. Vedder of Lakeport.'


That still left the jury one person short. So Mann reappointed Locke to the grand jury, a move which Locke greeted with surprise.


After swearing in the new grand jury, Mann reappointed Locke grand jury foreman, which Locke told Lake County News after the ceremony had proved to be another surprise for him.


Mann told the other jurors that they would find it easy to work with Locke, who has been on the grand jury the past two years. This will be his third year in a row with the group, and his second year as grand jury foreman.


Since the grand jury also had no alternates, Mann told outgoing jurors that they may be called in the event there are openings. Mann added it's a “virtual certainty” vacancies will occur on the grand jury in the year ahead.


The incoming grand jurors then went into a closed-door session with Judge Mann, who gave them their charge so they could begin organizing for the year ahead.


During their year of service – which follows a fiscal year format, from July to July – grand jury members serve as officers of the court but work as an independent body to ensure that government is acting in the best interests of the citizens it's intended to serve.


A statement from the grand jury's office says the body's major function “is to examine county and city government and special districts to ensure that their duties are being lawfully carried out.”


In order to do that, the grand jury reviews and evaluates procedures, methods and systems utilized by government entities to determine whether more efficient and economical programs may be employed.


In recent years, the Lake County grand jury has been noted for its highly detailed investigative reports, focusing attention on, among other things, an embezzlement case at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, Child Protective Services and defense services for indigent defendants in the county's court system.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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