D.C., 26 F.2d 487; United States v. Owen, supra.
The common law reasons for secrecy were several and may be stated thusly:
1. To prevent the escape of those indicted;
2. To insure the grand jury freedom in its deliberations;
3. To prevent any persons from annoying the grand jurors;
4. To prevent subornation of perjury with witnesses who may testify before the grand jury and later appear at the trial of those indicted by it.
5. To encourage free and untrammeled disclosures by persons who have some information with respect to the commission of crimes, and,
6. To protect the innocent person, who is accused but exonerated, from the disclosure of the fact that he has been under investigation.
Secrecy has characterized Grand Jury proceedings from earliest times. Secrecy of proceedings of a Grand Jury is fundamental to our criminal procedure, United States v. Papaioanu, D.C., 10 F.R.D. 517. Exceptions are made only for such purposes as impeachment of a witness or prosecution for perjury statements. The importance of preventing numerous inroads into the historic privacy of the proceedings of a Grand Jury was discussed at length in Application of Bar Association of Erie County, 1944, 182 Misc. 529, 47 N.Y.S.2d 213, 218. An application for inspection of Grand Jury minutes was sought by the New York Erie County Bar Association. The New York Court refused, noting that to do so otherwise would permit the disadvantages to the public interest to outweigh any possible advantages. Quoting from the text of the decision, the Court stated: 'As against the granting of this motion is the historic privacy of the grand jury proceedings. For hundreds of years this greatest single instrumentality of human freedom and liberty known to our form of government has enjoyed the guarantee of immunity from accountability, recrimination and persecution by those against whom accusations were made. This immunity has been enjoyed because of the historic secrecy surrounding the proceedings of the grand jury. In this state this secrecy is established by statute, and penalties may be imposed upon one violating that statute. Without this guarantee a witness may well hesitate to testify against one in an official or exalted position, and a talisman may fail in his sworn duty and the public interest would suffer thereby.'
In re Special Report of Grand Jury of Erie County, 1948, 192 Misc. 857, 77 N.Y.S.2d 438, 441, where grand jury testimony was sought for the purposes of an administrative hearing, the Court denied the request and stated its attitude as follows: 'Secrecy is certainly necessary in order to encourage Grand Jurors to faithfully and fearlessly perform their duties. This cloak of secrecy tends to loosen the tongues of reluctant witnesses to testify before the Grand Jury where without it they might hesitate to so do and to further extend the exceptions to this rule of secrecy might hamper the wheels of criminal justice. * * * future witnesses (might) be reluctant to testify freely before a grand jury in the future.'
In United States v. American Medical Ass'n, D.C., 1939, 26 F.Supp. 429, 430, decided in the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia, Judge Proctor expressed the rule as to the secrecy surrounding Grand Jury proceedings in the following words: 'Legal history suggests nothing to qualify the literal meaning of the words imposing secrecy. * * * Neither indictment, arrest of the accused, nor expiration of the jury term will operate to release a juror from the oath of secrecy * * *. That can only be done by a court acting in a given case when in its judgment the ends of justice so require.'
In cases of this nature, the sole question to be resolved is which policy shall be served to bring about justice, the one requiring secrecy or the other permitting disclosure?
While on the stand, the Senior Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Fihelly, asserted that no competent testimony was omitted in the criminal trial against Inspector Bullock. Apparently, the substance of all testimony given before the Grand Jury which indicted Inspector Bullock was subsequently bared in open court. The records of the criminal case are available to both sides for inspection. In view of this fact and by reason of the common-law emphasis on secrecy this Court takes the position that disclosures made before the Grand Jury by witnesses other than Inspector Bullock shall retain their veil of secrecy.
With regard to Inspector Bullock the Court takes a different attitude. The right to an office or employment with the Government or any of its agencies is not a 'vested property right'. Ludolph v. Board of Police Commissioners, 30 Cal.App.2d 211, 86 P.2d 118, 121; Application of Scro, 200 Misc. 688, 108 N.Y.S.2d 305, 307. In the latter case Judge Leibowitz in his opinion stated: 'If they (the police officers) were guilty of the reprehensible conduct attributed to them, namely, of accepting graft in return for protecting Gross in his illegal business, their continued retention on the police force would have made law enforcement a mockery. Public interest, therefore, required that this testimony be made available to the Police Commissioner, to be used by him within limits prescribed by law.'
The Commissioners of the District of Columbia and their duly appointed representatives have the duty and responsibility to supervise the Metropolitan Police Department, a local governmental agency, and to take necessary steps to maintain its good name. In the course of exercising this power the Superintendent of Police directed Inspector Bullock to state if he had any affiliation or connection with the illegal operations of the Charles Nelson organization. Such information was important and self-evident as to its purpose. Although the Inspector signed a jurat as to the truth and full disclosure of the answers in the questionnaire he testified at the hearing of this cause that his answers 'may have been incomplete'. Failure of a high ranking officer to submit completely to a superior's order is a direct rebuke to public interest. Where public interest is superior to the purpose of the secrecy of Grand Jury testimony, the latter protection will be disregarded and the minutes divulged within limits prescribed by law. To do otherwise would be an abuse of discretion and injurious to public interest. Cf. In re Crain, 139 Misc. 799, 250 N.Y.S. 249.
Accordingly, the official stenographer or the United States Attorney will be directed to make the Grand Jury testimony of Inspector Bullock available to the District of Columbia Commissioners and their duly qualified governmental representatives. Counsel will prepare a suitable order.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.