North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
Submit this request

June 7, 1977 Counties; Grand Jury, Authority of Grand Jury to Require County Commissioners to Repair County Buildings

Subject:

 

Requested By: R. Wendel Hutchins County Attorney Plymouth, North Carolina

 

Question: Does the Grand Jury have authority to compel the County Commissioners to Repair County Buildings?

 

Conclusion: Although G.S. 15A-628 requires the Grand Jury to inspect the jail, and authorizes it to inspect other county offices and agencies and report to the court, we find no authority for the grand jury to compel the county commissioners to repair county buildings. In a proper case, county commissioners may be charged criminally for breach of duty.

 

The responsibility for directing the fiscal policy of the county is imposed open the county commissioners by G.S. 153A-101. The acquisition of property for county use is vested in the commissioners by G.S. 153A-158.

G.S.
153A-169 imposes upon the commissioners the duty to supervise the maintenance, repair and use of all county property.
G.S.
15A-628 states the duty of the grand jury in inspecting the jail, and it may inspect other county offices and agencies and must report the results of its inspection to the court. However, we find no statute which authorizes the grand jury to compel the county commissioners to make repairs.

In Ward v. Commissioners, 146 NC 534, it was held that mandamus would not lie to compel county commissioners to repair or build a courthouse. "The duty of providing a sufficient and proper courthouse is to be discharged by the county commissioners, subject to indictment, if there is a wilful failure, and to supervision by the people of the county in the election of another board of commissioners, should they see fit." See Threadgill v. Board of Commissioners 99 NC 352; Jackson v. Board of Commissioners, 171 NC 379; Barbour v. Carteret County, 255 NC

177.

We conclude that the grand jury does not have authority to compel the Commissioners to repair county buildings, but in a proper case, the commissioners could be subject to indictment for wilful breach or neglect of duty. State v. Leeper, 146 NC 655.

Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General

James F. Bullock Senior Deputy Attorney General