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About Us

Since 1978, the American Grand Jury Foundation has trained several thousand California civil grand jurors to perform their statutory duties. In addition to grand jury manuals and other publications about interviewing, sources of information, a computerized recommendation-tracking system for grand juries, and other topics, our periodic newsletters (no longer available) have provided useful information to public officials, grand jurors, and the judiciary for almost two decades. In 2001 the Foundation published an extensive evaluation of the California civil grand jury: Grand Juries in California: A Study in Citizenship. The Foundation has more recently focused its research into the nature and practice of American citizenship.

Bruce T. Olson is the Executive Director of the Foundation. His background is in four fields: program evaluation and research, newspaper reporting, law enforcement, and the academic study of complex organizations. His interest in California civil grand juries began in the 1960s when he chose that topic for his master’s thesis in criminology at the University of California at Berkeley. His thesis has since been cited in a number of California appellate court cases, law-review articles, and other publications. In the late 1970s, several grand jurors, having read the thesis, invited him to help them design a training program for civil grand jurors in California. This experience eventually led to his conclusion that, in general, too few American citizens are prepared to practice the form of vigilant, active citizenship that the Founders of our Country had in mind when they created the United States Constitution.

One can attribute this problem to many causes, but the most prominent are (a) the American educational system, (b) the decline in investigative reporting, (c) the failure of social science to adequately confront the problem of civic ineptitude and apathy, and (d) a similar neglect by legal scholars to contribute to the development of a concept of citizenship that embraces not only the rights of citizens but their obligations to maintain the system of self-government implicit in the American constitutional order. These and related topics will be explored in the pages of this Web site.

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