city governments. Those who called for a grand jury investigation
into recent charges of sexual harassment in the local police
department simply didn't understand a grand jury's function and its
It takes a grand jury a full year to investigate county
government. With more than 20 cities, it would be a physical
impossibility to go into their various problems.
I qualify as an expert in grand juries. During my 23 years on the
Superior Court, I selected, impaneled, advised, instructed and lived
with 13 grand juries. While each left office with a feeling of
frustration that its recommendations were not being followed,
nevertheless from where I was sitting I could see a pattern of
improvement in county government directly traceable to various grand
juries. Government moves and changes with glacial speed but, when
nudged, it does move. And various grand juries nudged Orange County
into some remarkable changes. I could write a master's thesis or a
doctorate on the subject but will refrain -- a decision that will
come as a considerable relief to the reader.
The most important person on a grand jury is its foreperson. He or
she sets the tone and leads the grand jury into either success or
failure. All the instructions from the judge are meaningless unless
there is a strong foreperson to lead his or her 18 other grand jurors
in a pursuit of better government. Since I came from Newport Beach,
it is not surprising that several of my grand jury forepersons came
from this town.
My first Orange County grand jury foreperson was Braden Finch.
Braden was an outstanding local citizen, a former city councilman and
owner, with his wife, of Kay Finch Ceramics. Orange County government
was right out of the Chicago or New York ward heeler type of
government. Each of the five supervisors ran his little fiefdom.
There was no central authority. Braden Finch's grand jury completed
its year of investigation into county government with a scathing
report charging the county with "horse and buggy" practices. From
that first report, followed by others, the county finally hired a