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IN RE BULLOCK

March 11, 1952

In re BULLOCK


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KIRKLAND

The Commissioners of the District of Columbia, through the Corporation Counsel, filed a petition seeking to have the minutes of the Grand Jury made available, in order to determine if dereliction of duty on the part of Inspector Albert I. Bullock existed as a policeman and as one of the supervisory officials of the Metropolitan Police Department.

The respondent refused voluntarily to have the minutes of the Grand Jury opened and in his answer in general he raised in substance the following three contentions:

 1. That the designation of an advisory board of three members of the local Bar to 'study the record of the Nelson Case' had superseded the right of the Commissioners and their duly appointed representatives to have the minutes.

 2. That by the Commissioners' order No. 302,83 8/9 it was shown that the United States Attorney 'had informally advised the Commissioners' of the contents of the minutes of the Grand Jury and that thereby in fact had revealed the said minutes, and

 3. That the minutes of the Grand Jury as a matter of law should not be revealed.

 The petitioners only called the respondent in their case as a witness, but the respondent called the Secretary of the Board of Commissioners, G. M. Thornett, Commissioner F. Joseph Donohue, Francis W. Hill, Jr., Esq., a member of the Bar Committee, Major Robert B. Murray, Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Department, and the Assistant United States Attorneys, John W. Fihelly, Esq., and Alfred Hantman, Esq.

 The authority for the Court to disclose the minutes of the Grand Jury must be governed by Fed. Rules Crim. Prod. Rule 6(e), Title 18 U.S.C.A., which provides that the secrecy surrounding Grand Jury proceedings may be unveiled:

 A. '* * * preliminarily to or in connection with a judicial proceeding' or

 B. '* * * at the request of the defendant upon a showing that grounds may exist for a motion to dismiss the indictment because of matters occurring before the grand jury.'

 Since the respondent declined voluntarily to consent to the disclosure of the Grand Jury minutes, this opinion will be concerned with the Court's power under the first part of Criminal Rule 6(e).

 The duty and authority to take disciplinary action for dereliction of duty against members of the Metropolitan Police Department is one which rests with the Board of Commissioners, who hold that power by reason of Title 4, Section 122 of the D.C. Code. The Board may not lawfully delegate that power. However, there is nothing to prevent the Board of Commissioners from seeking outside advisory opinions from members of the local Bar Association or any other group. Such a Committee of local Bar members would not be a part of 'the Commissioners and their designated representatives' as set forth in respondent's exhibit 1, the Commissioners own order No. 302,83 8/9 , since they are not bona fide employees of the Municipal Government for the District of Columbia. The Court holds as a matter of law that the Commissioners have not ousted themselves of their statutory powers by the appointment of a three member outside committee to render them an advisory opinion.

 The testimony of the two Assistant United States Attorneys and Mr. Francis W. Hill, Jr., as well as Commissioner Donohue indicated that the minutes of the Grand Jury have not, in fact, been disclosed. At the most there appears to have been a general discussion in the United States Attorney's Office. One of the Assistant United States Attorneys, Mr. Hantman, had prepared a typewritten index-digest of the testimony and had collected and summarized it in a small loose leaf binder, which he produced in open Court, in ten minutes after being requested to do so while he was on the witness stand. Mr. Hantman further testified it had not been out of the possession of the assistants who had handled the testimony before the Grand Jury. Accordingly the Court finds that the contents of the minutes of the Grand Jury have not been disclosed.

 If a literal interpretation of F.R.C.P. 6(e) were given it would appear that under the circumstances the Court has no authority to grant the petition before it. See United States v. Owen, D.C., 11 F.R.D. 371, 373. However, by way of interpretation the Federal Courts have extended their jurisdiction so that they may remove the seal of privacy from Grand Jury proceedings when in the Court's discretion the furtherance of justice requires it. (Italics supplied.) Metzler v. United States, 9 Cir., 64 F.2d 203; United States v. Alper, 2 Cir., 156 F.2d 222; United States v. Crolich, D.C., 101 F.Supp. 782. But the power to grant an inspection of Grand Jury records and ...


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