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Memorandum from the Justice Department responding to questions Page
"Organized Labor Threatened by Abuse of Grand Jury System,"
Railsback, Hon. Tom, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Justice, letter dated September 10, 1974, to Hon. Peter W. Rodino,
Sledd, Herbert D., American Bar Association, letter dated Septem-
Uhlmann, Michael M., Assistant Attorney General, Department of
Justice, letter dated July 23, 1975, to Hon. Peter W. Rodino, Jr. - 77
Tiger, Edith, director, National Emergency Civil Liberties Commit-
FEDERAL GRAND JURY
THURSDAY, JUNE 10, 1976
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m., in room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Joshua Eilberg (chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Eilberg, Sarbanes, Holtzman, Fish, and Cohen.
Also present : Garner J. Cline, Arthur P. Endres, Jr., and Martin H. Belsky, counsel; and Alexander B. Cook, associate counsel.
Mr. EILBERG. The subcommittee will come to order.
Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the subcommittee's hearing, in full or in part, may be covered by television broadcast, radio broadcast, still photography, or by any such methods of coverage according to committee rule 5-A.
Mr. EiLBERG. Without objection, the motion is granted.
Mr. Attorney General, in the event you would like anyone to sit with you, you are certainly free to do so.
Mr. LEVI. No, just like someone going to the grand jury, I'm alone. [Laughter.]
Mr. EILBERG. Today the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and International Law commences a series of hearings on proposed legislation on an issue of critical importance to our criminal justice system-reform of the Federal grand jury system.
Our witness this morning is the Attorney General.
In future hearings this summer and fall, we will hear from the Judicial Conference, the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National District Attorney's Association, and the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association.
Members of Congress and other organizations, prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and individuals will also be invited to testify.
The grand jury system has been the cause of both myth and misunderstanding.
Most historians date the creation of the grand jury with the Assize of Clarendon in 1166, convened as an investigatory arm of the crown.
Its formal creation occurred through the Lateran Council, as one of the reforms wrested from King John and placed in the Magna Carta. As a result of the famous Earl of Shaftesbury case in 1681, the grand jury came to be perceived as a body free from royal influence and as a protector against unfounded charges and oppressive government.
Recent studies have indicated that this perception was not totally justified.
Kings used the grand jury to justify attacks on their enemies.
Nevertheless, when the English Colonists came to North America, they brought along the grand jury and used it not only to initiate prosecution, but also to act as spokesmen for the people, a platform for local leaders, and the depository of complaints against the crown.
It became entrenched in our judicial heritage and was preserved, after independence, through the fifth amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The clear intent of the drafters of the amendment was to establish the grand jury as a “bulwark against oppression” by uncontrolled Government attorneys.
In recent years, however, increasing evidence has been presented that the historic function of the grand jury has been perverted and that its historic purpose has been disregarded.
It has been almost 3 years since this subcommittee began its study of alleged abuses in the Federal grand jury system.
In March of 1973, we received testimony regarding the so-called Fort Worth Five controversy and listened to witnesses describe the use of grand juries to investigate “political crimes"; the locating of grand jury inquiries, often for political purposes, far from the site of an alleged offense; the use of grants of immunity to elicit testimony; and the use of the court's contempt power to coerce it.
Following this hearing, I began an extensive review of existing Federal grand jury practices and procedures in order to acquire a better understanding of the institution and to determine whether remedial legislation is required.
It became clear to me, after thoroughly researching the subject, that the operation of the Federal grand jury has been totally ignored for too long by both the legislative and judicial branches of Government.
Consequently, on June 6, 1973, I introduced H.R. 8461—the Grand Jury Reform Act of 1973—to address those areas most susceptible to abuse and most urgently in need of reform.
This was the first comprehensive bill ever introduced on reform of the Federal grand jury system.
I am pleased that other Members of the House and Senate later recognized the need for such reform by introducing similar legislation.
In 1974, the Judiciary Committee had the task of determining whether sufficient evidence was available to warrant "trial" of the President by the U.S. Senate.
During the impeachment inquiry, we learned of the enormous value of the grand jury and also of the inherent potential for abuse in present grand jury procedures.
An investigative grand jury, under the direction of District Judge Sirica, was able to tear away the covernp curtain and ferret out those responsible for the most massive attempt to subvert our political system.