Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson
Remarks for the Grand Jury Practice Seminar
September 5-7, 2001
National Advocacy Center, Columbia, South Carolina
(Remarks to be taped prior to conference by JMD, August 30, 2001 at 2 p.m.)
I am pleased to have this opportunity to address you today at the Grand Jury Practice Seminar. Unfortunately, I had a scheduling conflict this week and could not address you in person, but I didn't want to miss this opportunity to stress to you the importance of training for all prosecutors who appear before a federal grand jury. I hope that this seminar affords you the opportunity to learn about fundamental principles that have become more and more crucial to the successful prosecution of federal cases.
I also wanted to give you some background on recent efforts for grand jury reform and why your role as federal prosecutors is so important in this process.
In my legal career, I have served as a United States Attorney, an Independent Counsel, a criminal defense attorney, and on a commission for grand jury reform. Having seen the issue of grand jury reform from all perspectives, I understand how valuable it is for the Department of Justice to do all things possible to ensure that federal prosecutors know the principles regarding grand jury practice and feel confident implementing them.
As many of you know, there has been a strong effort by the criminal defense bar and several legislators in the past few years to change the way federal grand juries function.
The proposals have included such things as allowing defense attorneys in the grand jury room, requiring federal prosecutors to disclose all exculpatory evidence to the grand jury, allowing a target or subject the absolute right to testify or submit evidence to the grand jury, and providing for the automatic dissemination of grand jury transcripts to witnesses.
It has been the Department's view that these proposals would impair the effectiveness of the grand jury and impede its work. Department representatives and representatives from United States Attorney's Offices have appeared before Congress to present the Department's position on this issue.
At the same time, the Attorney General's Advisory Committee (AGAC) and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) have worked with congressional staffers and others to educate them about the federal grand jury process and to attempt to assure proponents of the proposals that there are safeguards in place in the United States Attorneys'Offices to prevent most of the alleged abuses that Congress was concerned about.
The primary focus in these discussions has been whether federal prosecutors were receiving sufficient training on Department policy regarding the grand jury.
As a result, the AGAC worked with the Office of Legal Education (OLE) to determine different ways to ensure that federal prosecutors were receiving adequate training. It was decided that the best way to proceed was by imposing an 8 hour requirement for in-house training for all federal prosecutors who appear before the grand jury.
Bob Mueller, who was Acting Deputy Attorney General at the time, signed a memorandum on March 8, 2001 to all United States Attorneys and Assistant Attorneys General requesting that they provide 8 hours of grand jury training in their offices during calendar year 2001.
Each office was given discretion in how to conduct the training and was sent a Grand Jury Training Packet with videotapes, 6Corel Presentation slideshows, and Outlines from OLE to assist with this training. OLE also increased the frequency of the Grand Jury Practice course you are attending this week which allows you to fulfill the mandatory requirement in your district.
OLE has also published a Grand Jury Manual which you should have received a copy of in your district. This Manual provides excellent guidance on fundamental grand jury practice and is a great resource for you as you appear before the grand jury.
The goals of these training efforts are twofold: We want to ensure that every federal prosecutor who appears before a grand jury is equipped with the fundamentals of federal grand jury practice and knows and abides by the Department's policy in this area. In addition, we want to be able to assure Congress, as it considers the issue of grand jury reform, that the Department is doing everything possible to train its prosecutors to conduct themselves legally and ethically before the grand jury.
By working to improve the grand jury skills of each prosecutor, we believe that we will better protect our prosecutors, improve the quality of federal prosecutions, and maintain Congress' and the public's confidence in our ability to do our jobs.
Thank you for doing your part in this effort by attending this seminar. I want all of you to know how much I support and appreciate the work you are doing in all of your offices, and I thank you for your tremendous efforts.