44 Admin. L. Rev. 465 (1992)
Why Not Administrative Grand Juries

handle is hein.journals/admin44 and id is 479 raw text is: 465

WHY NOT ADMINISTRATIVE
GRAND JURIES?
Ronald F Wright*
INTRODUCTION
T he people care nothing for their bureaucrats. The typical citizen of the
United States, a nation founded on the notion that the people must
govern themselves, knows next to nothing about the daily administration
of government. Although the government affects their lives profoundly,
citizens interact with government agencies without any conviction that they
could influence an outcome. I And as participation and familiarity with public
affairs dwindle, alienation and indifference grow. This detachment from
the administrative work of government appears to be part of the larger
pattern of declining voter turnout and apathy.2 There is reason to fear that
Americans are losing any sense of community.'
The time has come, then, to consider what may seem an outlandish idea.
I propose in this article that local, state, and federal governments use citizen
panels modeled on the criminal grand jury to monitor or perform some of
the administrative tasks now handled by administrative agencies. Other
*Associate Professor of Law, Wake Forest University. B.A. College of William and Mary,
1981;J.D. Yale Law School 1984. 1 appreciate the generous deliberations of Kathryn Abrams,
Akhil Amar, Cynthia Farina, Michael Gerhardt, David Logan, Alan Palmiter, and the partic-
ipants in the Faculty Workshop of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William
and Mary, in connection with early drafts. Patrick Kernan,Jayson Sowers, and Judith Wrob-
lewski provided research assistance.
1. See HOUSE COMM. ON POST OFFICE AND CIVIL SERVICE, 101ST CONG., IST SESS., REPORT
AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON THE PUBLIC SERVICE 95, 105
(Comm. Print 1989) (Volcker Commission); MARY G. KWEIT & ROBERT W. KWEIT,
IMPLEMENTING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN A BUREAUCRATIC SOCIETY 68 (1981); Lucie E.
White, Subordination, Rhetorical Survival Skills, and Sunday Shoes: Notes on the Hearing of Mrs.
G., 38 BUFF. L. REv. 1, 29-32 (1990) (describing conviction of welfare recipient that she was
powerless to influence agency).
2. See Walter D. Burnham, The Turnout Problem, in ELECTIONS AMERICAN STYLE 97 (A.
James Reichley ed. 1987); 1991 INFORMATION PLEASE ALMANAC 41 (Otto Johnson, et al.
eds., 1991) (turnout figures for 1988 elections); L. ORIN PETERSON, THE DAY OF THE
MUGWUMP 12 (1961) (Most Americans look at politics the same way the frontiersman used
to regard a bath: as something to be indulged in only every year or so.).
3. See generally ROBERT N. BELLAH, ET AL., HABITS OF THE HEART (1985); ROBERT J.
PRANCER, THE ECLIPSE OF CITIZENSHIP (1968); MICHAEL J. SANDEL, LIBERALISM AND THE
LIMITS OFJUSTICE (1982);JOSEPH VEROFF, ET AL., THE INNER AMERICAN: A SELF-PORTRAIT
FROM 1957 TO 1976 (1981). But cf Kathryn Abrams, Kitsch and Community, 84 MICH. L. REV.
941 (1986) (book review).

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