Does a person HAVE to testify before a grand jury if
called to do so?
|Response: Absolutely, UNLESS they can invoke a valid privilege (5th
amendment, attorney-client, marital, etc.) as the legitimate basis for refusing to do so.
If a witness invokes a privilege, a prosecutor can then take the person before the judge
presiding over the grand jury (Norma Hollaway Johnson in the Lewinsky case) and argue that
the person is not entitled to claim the privilege. If the judge agrees, the person must
answer; if the judge sides with the witness, he or she can invoke the privilege and won't
have to answer (unless the prosecutor gives him/her immunity, which deprives them of the
ability to claim the 5th amendment privilege).
What gives the grand jury the right to ask questions about
a person's private life and/or behavior between consenting adults? Why couldn't Monica
Lewinsky respond "None of your business" when asked if she had an affair with
|Response: In a famous case, the U.S. Supreme Court said that grand
jury inquiries are presumed to seek evidence relevant to a grand jury's investigation.
Therefore, to refuse to answer on the grounds of irrelevance ("it's none of your
business"), the witness would have to show there's no conceivable way the answer to
the question could provide any evidence that could be relevant to the grand jury's
inquiry. IN another case, the court said a grand jury investigates because it wants to see
if the law has been broken or simply to assure itself that no law has been broken. You
tell me: What isn't relevant under that standard?
What "justice" is Clinton being accused of
obstructing, what "crime" is he supposedly covering up?
|Response: The obstruction apparently goes to the possibility that he
encouraged Lewinsky (& maybe others?) to conceal evidence about their sexual
relationship, which would have obstructed a grand jury's inquiry into that matter. The
sexual relationship was not a crime, so that can't be what he's covering up (if he's
covering anything up). The concern is whether he told her to lie or destroy evidence (like
returning gifts he gave her so she couldn't give them to the grand jury) and whether he or
anyone working for him helped her with the "talking points" memo, which was
apparently a road map in how not to answer the grand jury's questions truthfully. And,
too, there is the claim that President Clinton lied when he denied having a sexual
relationship with Ms. Lewinsky in his deposition in the Paula Jones case; that would be
perjury and covering up evidence of that crime would be obstructing justice. The same is
true of Lewinsky's apparent lie in the affidavit she gave, in which she denied a sexual
relationship with the President.