Monday, August 10, 2009

The Grand Jury: A Federal Prosecutor's Tool

Much has been written about grand jury abuses. But not many people really understand the role of the federal grand jury in a federal criminal investigation. In particular, not many people really know how federal prosecutors utilize the federal grand jury as a tool to help make a federal criminal case. Do you want to learn from a former federal prosecutor what really "goes on behind closed doors?!"

Unlike state prosecutors, federal prosecutors, or Assistant U.S. Attorneys, (often called "AUSAs"), are very active participants in federal criminal investigations. That was one part of being an AUSA that I loved! Working closely with federal agents, AUSAs help prepare grand jury subpoenas for business records. Also, AUSAs help plan which witnesses to take before the grand jury. For instance, during an investigation of corporate fraud, if the corporate defense attorneys won't allow interviews of corporate employees, an AUSA may get around this obstacle by issuing grand jury subpoenas to the corporate employees and taking them to the grand jury. In addition, AUSAs will often decide to take recalcitrant, uncooperative witnesses before the grand jury where they can be locked in as to their testimony, under oath. Then, if a hostile witness later "breaks bad" at trial, the AUSA can use a transcript of their prior grand jury testimony to impeach them! These are some of the ways in which federal prosecutors use the federal grand jury as a legitimate tool in federal grand jury investigations.

So, now you can see how the federal grand jury plays an important role in federal criminal investigations, and you can better understand the role of a federal prosecutor in relation to the grand jury. And now, you also really know what "goes on behind closed doors!"

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