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Note: The comments and questions on this page came from people who visited this website. Please feel free to send your comments and questions to Professor Brenner (brenner@udayton.edu). She will respond privately, and may ask permission to post your message on this page. No one's e-mail will be used without first obtaining their permission, and names and e-mail addresses are removed before a comment is posted. Starting in 2002, the responses posted to the site indicate which of us replied: The initials SWB mean Professor Brenner wrote the response; the initials LES mean Professor Shaw wrote the response. We are also putting the year down, to indicate when the response was posted. If no initials appear, Professor Brenner wrote the response.

Does a witness have the right to know what a grand jury is investigating?

My father was just served with a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury. The subpoena did not have a caption or make any reference to the subject matter of the investigation/inquiry. He has no idea what this is about or why he has been asked to testify. Does he have a right to know what the grand jury is investigating? 

Response: A witness does not have a right to know what subject is being investigated, but subpoenas usually do indicate the offenses that are being investigated. 

Your father could (and depending on his relationship to the investigation, perhaps should) retain an attorney to represent him in this matter. The attorney can contact the prosecutor conducting the investigation and ask him/her what the investigation concerns, what offenses are at issue, etc. And if it is appropriate, the attorney can attempt to negotiate immunity for your father. 

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