CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"U.S. Urges Opening Up Old Grand Jury Records"

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, in a move that could open up more transcripts of historically significant grand jury testimony from many years ago, is proposing to change a rule that imposes strict and permanent secrecy requirements on such records.

In a letter to a committee of judges who shape the Federal Rules for Criminal Procedure, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote that the rule making it a crime to disclose grand jury information should be amended to allow courts to lift the veil of secrecy from transcripts that are at least 30 years old if their disclosure would not affect any still-living witness or investigative target. Mr. Holder also proposed allowing all grand jury materials that are deemed historically significant and that are at least 75 years old to be made public through the National Archives, without any need for a court review.

. . .

Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said that it was important to preserve general secrecy around the grand jury so witnesses would testify “freely and without fear,” but that there was a need to balance that concern with the public interest in eventual disclosure of historically significant information.

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