Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Not all grand jury information is confidential under FOI Act

Partial calendar information relating to the Justice Department's participation in a grand jury investigation that does not reveal juror or witness names must be released under the Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has ruled.

A convicted drug dealer representing himself in court won the right to see the dates on which federal prosecutors interviewed potential witnesses in a grand jury investigation of alleged money laundering by his lawyer.

In Lopez v. Department of Justice, decided Jan. 11, Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, ruled that grand jury confidentiality was not meant to draw an impenetrable "veil of secrecy" around all grand jury-related information, only such information as would "tend to reveal some secret aspect of the grand jury's investigation."

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