G. Jury Secrecy

But as for Polyneices, who perished so miserably, an order has gone out throughout the city—that’s what people say. He’s to have no funeral, or lament, but to be left unburied and unwept, a sweet treasure for the birds to look at, for them to feed on to their hearts content. That’s what people say the noble Creon has announced to you and me—I mean to me—and now he’s coming to proclaim the fact, to state it clearly to those who have not heard. For Creon this matter’s really serious. Anyone who acts against it will be stoned to death before the city. — From Antigone

Who’s running this place, anyway? — Unattributed

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A phrase popped out at me from an Associated Press story in Friday’s papers: “the grand jury process is confidential.”

The context in this case was THIS article headlined “Justices: Grand jury can seek president’s tax filings.” The first paragraph: “Rejecting President Donald Trump’s complaints that he’s being harassed, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of a New York prosecutor’s demands for the billionaire president’s tax records.”

Characteristically, President Trump reacted furiously.

In this case the grand jury is in Manhattan, where the state district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., called the decision “a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one—not even a president—is above the law.”

Contrast this with a matter involving a federal district attorney in Manhattan, now-former United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman, whom President Trump fired last month.

Why Trump fired Berman is a mystery. Possibly it had nothing to do with his apparent stonewalling on a petition by the  Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry that he present to a federal grand jury “evidence of explosives and incendiaries involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers” on Sept. 11, 2001. Possibly it had to do with his having presented that evidence. This is unknown, because the same confidentiality the AP noted of the grand jury process at the state level also pertains to federal grand juries.

In any case, Berman’s former deputy U.S. Attorney, Audrey Strauss, is currently Acting U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and now the matter is in her hands.

Berman had informed the Lawyers’ Committee that it and its clients lacked “standing” in its petition and in a Mandamus appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Lawyers’ Committee also lacks standing with the editors of the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal, which have never acknowledged its existence.

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