As a Canadian, I am not that familiar with the
inner workings of the Grand Jury; however, having said that, I am astonished at what I have
seen of the Grand Jury, and some of its jurors this past week [e.g., September 14-21], and
the impact the unprecedented release of Grand Jury findings and documentation to the world
at large, will have on the credibility of the United States Judicial System as a whole.
Throughout the scathing attacks on the President of the United States by the Starr
inquiry, Starr often cautioned those brought before the inquisition of the Grand Jury,
that their testimony (under the force of subpoena) was to remain confidential. It is my
understanding that those who were subpoenaed for the Clinton Inquiry still cannot reveal
their testimony without being cited for contempt? Is this true?
|Response: Secrecy does not bind a witness; witnesses are free to talk
about their own experiences before the grand jury. Secrecy only binds the other
participants--the prosecutors, grand jurors and a court reporter, if one was used to
record the proceedings. If any of these participants reveals what occurred, they face
prosecution for criminal contempt.
Last night I watched a TV showing two jurors of the Grand
Jury being interviewed and clearly stating that President Clinton should be impeached and
will be impeached and they will be voting for impeachment. They made these statements even
though they neither read nor viewed the voluminous documentation amassed by Starr. My
question: How can Grand Jury jurors make such public statements and still maintain the
credibility of a Judicial Inquiry?
|Response: Are you sure they were jurors? If they are talking about
voting for impeachment, they must have been Members of the House of Representatives (or
maybe Senators, as the Senate tries impeachment charges if the House brings them). Grand
jurors vote, if at all (they did not in this case) to indict, not impeach.
people were members of Congress, they're not bound by grand jury secrecy, and impeachment
is not a judicial inquiry. As to how they can say such things and purpose to be impartial,
I can't answer that, except to say that in my opinion the whole thing is so political, so
permeated by partisan politics, that I think there's no chance for impartiality.
The United States has on many occasions sanctioned other
nations because of their track record on human rights, on the one hand, while flaunting
the inalienable rights of Americans on the other. I believe the basic human rights of the
President of the United States have been trampled on by Starr, and also by the Jurors of
the Grand Jury. My question: How are we as non-Americans to view the apparent double
standard of the American Judiciary system when the Americans sanction the citizens of
other nations for violating human rights, and then they openly trample on the human rights
and dignity of their own President?
|Response: I don't have a good answer for you. Those who defend the
way the federal grand jury system currently works would say that the President, and anyone
investigated by a grand jury, are given all the necessary rights, since the grand jury
neither decides on impeachment nor convicts of a crime. . . . at most, it simply brings an
indictment or issues a report on impeachment. Personally, I think answers like that beg
the questions, in that they ignore the tremendous prejudicial effects being indicted or
being names in a report recommending impeachment has, not to mention the emotional trauma
and expense involved in defending against such charges (as well as hiring lawyers to deal
with the grand jury proceeding).
I can say that I think the Starr proceeding was
atypical, that it crossed the line of what would be allowed in a conventional grand jury
inquiry in a variety of ways. That, however, raises its own questions, as I'm sure you'll
ask why that was allowed to happen, and again I don't have a good answer, except to point
to the tremendous political undercurrents that have been driving this thing.
Please review my above questions within the context of the
purposes, roles and legal responsibilities of Grand Juries and Grand Jurors. The current
legal circus that is playing out in the media does not serve the best interests of the
|Response: Having discussed this with a number of foreign reporters, I