Sunday, August 26, 2007
In many white collar and non-white collar cases, the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can destroy a person's future livelihood or have other ramifications. In some cases when an individual does business with the government they can be debarred from continuing in that role. Ellen Gedalius of the Tampa Tribune reports on the recent unanimous decision of a city board to deny a pension to an individual convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, and bribery.
The ABA Jrl, in an article by Debra Cassens Weiss, explores the effect of a recent federal court ruling that allows witnesses to review their grand jury testimony. The title of the article is, "Ruling Thwarts Perjury Prosecutions."
The court's opinion in In Re Grand Jury states:
"This case raises a question that, surprisingly, has not yet been decided by this court: whether federal grand jury witnesses, after they have testified, are entitled to examine the transcripts of their own testimony. Applying Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)(3)(E)(i), we hold that grand jury witnesses are entitled to review the transcripts of their own testimony in private at the U.S. Attorney’s Office or a place agreed to by the parties or designated by the district court."
In rejecting one of the government's arguments, the DC Circuit Court states:
"[T]he Government is concerned about grand jury witnesses (or their attorneys) who disclose information to other grand jury witnesses (or their attorneys) with the purpose of obstructing the criminal investigation. The Government identifies joint defense agreements among attorneys as a threat to the integrity of the grand jury process. But denying witnesses access to their own transcripts to help prevent witnesses from talking to others makes little sense to begin with – and makes even less sense given that grand jury witnesses are under no legal obligation of secrecy. A grand jury witness is legally free to tell, for example, his or her attorney, family, friends, associates, reporters, or bloggers what happened in the grand jury. For that matter, the witness can stand on the courthouse steps and tell the public everything the witness was asked and answered. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(2)(A)-(B); Fed. R. Crim. P. 6, Advisory Committee Notes, 1944 Adoption, Note to Subdivision (e) ("rule does not impose any obligation of secrecy on witnesses"). The secrecy rules therefore are no justification for denying witnesses access to their own transcripts."
(esp)(hat tip to John Wesley Hall)
A press release of the DOJ reports that "[t]the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today accepted the Department of Justice’s plea agreements with British Airways Plc and Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd. that had been announced on August 1, 2007." The release confirms what was reported here that the "companies pleaded guilty and were sentenced to pay separate $300 million criminal fines for their roles in conspiracies to fix the prices of passenger and cargo flights."