FIRST AMENDMENT ISSUES AND THE RIGHT OF A GRAND JURY WITNESSES TO THEIR OWN TESTIMONY
Some cases have held that a grand jury witness has a due process right to see his or her testimony and a presumptive right to obtain a transcript of same. The most recent case in the federal system to address this issue, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, held that witness had the right to access to the transcripts to their own testimony, however it did not rule whether the witness has a right to a copy of it. In re Grand Jury, 490 F.3d 978 (C.A. D.C. 2007) (per curium).
In re Grand Jury, 490 F.3d 978 (C.A. D.C. 2007);
In Re Grand Jury Subpoena (John Doe), 72 F.3d 271, 275 (2d Cir. 1995);
In Re Heimerle, 788 F. Supp. 700 (E.D.N.Y. 1992);
Bursey v. U.S., 466 F.2d 1059, 1079-81 (9th Cir. 1972).
But see U.S. v. John Doe, Inc., 481 U.S. 102, 125, 107 S. Ct. 1656, 1669, 95
L.Ed.2d 94 (1987);
In Re Grand Jury Matter (Bachiel), 906 F.2d 78 (1990).
“[A] witness is not entitled to a copy of his grand jury testimony
on demand…… ”
Subject to a balancing test, the Government’s need to preserve the secrecy of an ongoing grand jury investigation is weighed against the interest the witness has in reviewing his or her own testimony. In re Grand Jury, 490 F.3d 978 (C.A. D.C. 2007). See also Douglas Oil Company v. Petrol Stops NW, 441 U.S. 211 (1979); In Re Grand Jury Subpoena (John Doe), 72 F.3d 271, 276 (2d Cir. 1995). Particular attention is paid to the reasons for needing the transcript. In Re Grand Jury Subpoena (John Doe), 72 F.3d at 276.
In In re Motions of Dow Jones, press organizations moved for access to district court proceedings ancillary to grand jury investigation of whether violations of federal law occurred in relation to witnesses or others associated with Paula Jones’ civil case against President Clinton. In re Motions of Dow Jones, 142 F.3d 496 (D.C. Cir. 1998). The Court stated:
“Press organizations did not have First Amendment right of access to ancillary proceedings, even insofar as such proceedings did not involve matters occurring before the grand jury within the meaning of grand jury Secrecy rule.” In Re Motions of Dow Jones, 142 F.3d 496 (D.C. Cir. 1998).