Time: Fri Jul 04 04:58:41 1997
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Date: Fri, 04 Jul 1997 04:54:51 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Rocky Flats Grand Jury Speaks (fwd)

>Denver Post
>July 2, 1997
>Email: letters@denverpost.com   
>   Grand jury could change much
>   Many observers uneasy
>   By Howard Pankratz
>   Denver Post Legal Affairs Writer
>   July 2 - The grand jury that intensely probed wrongdoing at Rocky
>   Flats and now wants to take its findings public is pushing into
>   "uncharted" legal waters that could dramatically change the federal
>   grand jury system, experts said Tuesday.
>   The jurors, who have for months asked for a closed hearing with a
>   federal judge, apparently will outline their investigation Wednesday
>   and Thursday behind closed doors.
>    That "confidential, closed proceeding" - either with U.S. District
>   Judge Richard Matsch or U.S. Magistrate Patricia Coan - is
>   unprecedented.
>    The jury investigated alleged environmental crimes at Rocky Flats for
>   2 1/2 years and wanted to return indictments against several officials
>   of the Department of Energy and Rockwell International Corp., which
>   managed the plant.
>    But the U.S. Justice Department accepted a plea bargain from
>   Rockwell, which paid an $18.5 million fine.
>    The grand jurors have pushed ever since for a full airing of their
>   deliberations.
>    If Matsch or Coan goes a step further and grants jurors' requests
>   that transcripts of the two-day hearing be released and they be
>   permitted to address Congress and the public, the federal grand jury
>   system may undergo profound change, said the experts.
>    The historically airtight secrecy of grand juries could be a thing of
>   the past. Conceivably, grand jurors could end up writing books, just
>   like jurors in sensational civil and criminal trials, one expert said.
>    "I think it would change the nature of the grand jury," said William
>   Pizzi, a former federal prosecutor in New Jersey and now a University
>   of Colorado law professor. "We might see books like 'Why We Didn't
>   Indict the President' ," he said.
>    "I have enough trouble with trial jurors writing books - I think some
>   things should be protected. I don't know how Matsch could limit the
>   impact to this case," Pizzi said.
>    Lawyer Jonathan Turley, who represents the grand jurors, has argued
>   in court documents that the public has a "great need to know" about
>   the jury's findings of misconduct at Rocky Flats. 
>   Most of the lawyers interviewed by The Denver Post believe in the
>   secrecy of the grand jury system - a veil that dates from the start of
>   grand juries in 11th century England.
>    The lawyers believe that the secrecy protects those under
>   investigation, the investigation itself and the witnesses who testify.
>    Grand juries often investigate rumors and other thin allegations
>   which may turn out to be untrue, they explained.
>    At other times, as in the case of former Vice President Spiro Agnew,
>   the rumors may be true and lead to high places.
>    Grand juries usually only hear the prosecution's side of a case.
>    Several local lawyers said they don't expect Matsch, who has a
>   reputation for rigidly enforcing grand jury secrecy, to allow the
>   Rocky Flats jurors to go public.
>    One lawyer, who asked that his name not be used, said the jurors may
>   actually have made a secret appeal to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of
>   Appeals after U.S. District Judge Sherman Finesilver refused earlier
>   requests to release their proposed indictments and report.
>    The lawyer said the timing is right for such an appeal to have been
>   taken to the 10th Circuit. The resulting opinion could have directed
>   Matsch or some judge in the federal district court in Denver to hold
>   the closed hearing the jurors sought, the lawyer speculated.
>    Bob Miller, a former U.S. attorney for Colorado, said he has never
>   seen anything like the Rocky Flats grand jury.
>    "The whole situation is unusual," said Miller. "I've never quite
>   heard of anything like this before." Miller is a strong believer in
>   grand jury secrecy, saying "too many lives can be harmed" if the grand
>   jury's operation becomes public.
>    "Innocent people are investigated and exonerated," said Miller. "If
>   the grand jury stuff got out, it would damage reputations." 
>   Bruce Black, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Denver, said he had
>   never heard of a grand jury "gaining this kind of notoriety and trying
>   to do something so out of the scope of the normal process." Only in
>   the "rarest of exceptions" is anything ever released from the actual
>   workings of the grand jury, Black noted. And there is absolutely
>   nothing in the rules surrounding grand juries that gives the public a
>   right to know what went on if certain criteria are met, he said.
>    Under legal rules, the Rocky Flats grand jury was a "special" grand
>   jury, Black said. And under highly limited circumstances, such
>   "special" panels can make reports to judges.
>    Those circumstances include cases of:
>   Noncriminal misconduct, malfeasance or misfeasance in office involving
>   organized criminal activity by an appointed public officer or
>   employee.
>    But Finesilver rejected the grand jury's report, saying it made
>   assertions of organized crime "that are unsupportable as a matter of
>   law and stray far afield from the special grand jury's charged and
>   sworn task." 
>   Black said that "it would be remarkable for that report to be made
>   public. What you have here is a situation where the jurors disagree
>   with the prosecution." 
>   "We are in an area that is totally uncharted," he said. 
>Denver Post
>1560 Broadway
>Denver, CO 80202
>Phone: (303) 820-1010 
>Fax: (303) 820-1369
>Email: letters@denverpost.com
>		      Re-distributed by the:
>	    Jury Rights Project (jrights@welcomehome.org)
>          Background info.:  http://www.execpc.com/~doreen
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>   send email with the word SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the title.

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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