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Application of Deborah Johnson

decided: August 3, 1973.

APPLICATION OF DEBORAH JOHNSON ET AL.


Hastings, Barnes,*fn* and Sprecher, Circuit Judges.

Author: Barnes

BARNES, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a decision of the District Court (1) declining to issue an order (a) annulling, and (b) directing the Clerk of the District Court to expunge, from the Records of the District Court, a report made on May 15, 1970, by the January Grand Jury of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division; and (2) dismissing, on motion of the Government, the said application for such annulment and expunction.

The order made on February 24, 1972 is concise and reads as follows:

"ENTER ORDER: Granting the Government's motion to dismiss this application to expunge a grand jury report.

"The report in question was issued by the January 1970 Grand Jury upon authorization by this court on May 15, 1970. Pursuant to this court's order, copies of the report were distributed to designated public officials, the news media, and the general public at a nominal cost.

"Fifteen months after the grand jury report had been widely distributed, these three applicants moved to expunge that report on the grounds that the grand jury exceeded its lawful authority and violated Rule 6(e), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, by issuing the report and, further, that these applicants were prejudiced by certain statements contained in the report itself.

"The secrecy of grand jury proceedings is not absolute; authorization of disclosure by means of grand jury reports or otherwise is committed to the discretion of the court. In re Grand Jury January, 1969, 315 F. Supp. 662 (D.Md.1970), and cases cited therein. Here, the court specifically found that disclosure of the grand Jury's findings was in the public interest. The court therefore concludes that issuance of the grand jury report was lawful.

"Furthermore, the contention that these applicants are prejudiced by the continued existence of the report also lacks merit. The report does not accuse them of any criminal conduct, nor are they under indictment in this court or any other court for activities related to the matters discussed in the grand jury report. Their reliance on Hammond v. Brown,*fn* 323 F. Supp. 326 (N.D.Ohio 1971), aff'd 450 F.2d 480 (6th Cir., No. 71-1278, October 22, 1971) is therefore misplaced.

"Under all of these circumstances, this court is of the opinion that the application lacks merit and should be dismissed."

Appellants assert as grounds for their application:

(a) the Grand Jury had no authority to issue the Report;

(b) the Report and its disclosure violate the rule of secrecy of grand jury proceedings;

(c) the recommendations as to conduct of executive agencies violate the doctrine of separation of powers;

(d) the recommendations as to conduct and function of news media, and the conduct of lawyers in criminal cases, are beyond the jury's lawful authority and jurisdiction;

(e) the submission of the grand jury conclusions and recommendations to "public exposure" is beyond the authority and ...


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