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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.

 

Punishment for perjury?

I’d like to find out who served on the Starr grand jury that investigated the President and Monica Lewinsky. How can I do that?

Response: In the federal system, the principle of grand jury secrecy established by Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure has been held, by lower federal courts, to encompass the names of grand jurors. This means it is not possible for you to find out who served on the Clinton-Lewinsky grand jury.

In the Watergate era, Carl Bernstein managed to get the names of the Watergate grand jurors by looking through a file in the court house, surreptitiously (he pretended to be looking at other things). He and Bob Woodward then tried to interview the grand jurors, their efforts were reported, and a judge criticized them for what they did and warned them not to pursue it. They were lucky the judge didn't hold them in contempt.

Interestingly, a few years after President Nixon had resigned and the whole Watergate affair was over, several magazines did stories looking back on the investigation. In some of those stories, jurors who served on the grand jury that investigated the Watergate break-in and that indicted Mitchell and the other Watergate defendants were interviewed about the grand jury’s work. Several of those jurors were quoted as saying they had wanted to indict then-President Nixon but were persuaded not to do so by prosecutors. This was clearly a breach of grand jury secrecy, even though time had passed, but no one raised it.

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