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CRM 1-499

159. Reports of Special Grand Juries

At the conclusion of its service, a special grand jury is authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3333, by a majority vote of its members, to submit to the district court, potentially for public release, a grand jury report, which must concern either: (1) noncriminal misconduct, malfeasance, or misfeasance in office involving organized crime activity by an appointed public officer or employee, as the basis for a recommendation for removal or disciplinary action; or (2) organized crime conditions in the district, without however being critical of any identified person. ("Public officer or employee" is defined broadly in 18 U.S.C. § 3333(f) to include Federal, State and local officials.)

Upon receiving a report from a special grand jury, the district court must examine it, together with the minutes of the special grand jury, and accept it, for eventual filing as a public record, if the report is: (1) one of the two types authorized by 18 U.S.C. § 3333(a); (2) based upon facts discovered in the course of an authorized criminal investigation; (3) supported by a preponderance of the evidence; and (4) if each public officer or employee named in the report was afforded a reasonable opportunity to testify and present witnesses on his/her own behalf before the special grand jury, prior to its filing the report. (It would seem that 18 U.S.C. § 3333(a) necessitates a recording of the proceedings if a special grand jury may issue a grand jury report.)

The wording and the legislative history of 18 U.S.C. §§ 3332(a) and 3333(b)(1) indicate that a special grand jury should not investigate for the sole purpose of writing a report; the report must emanate from the criminal investigation. At bottom, then, a special grand jury functions essentially like a regular grand jury. It is only after the "completion" of the criminal investigation, when the time is near for discharging the jury, that a report may be submitted to the court under 18 U.S.C. § 3333(a). The grand jury will by that time have exhausted all investigative leads and have found all appropriate indictments.

The "misconduct," "malfeasance," or "misfeasance" that may be the subject of a report (provided it is related to organized criminal activity) must, to some degree, involve willful wrongdoing as distinguished from mere inaction or lack of diligence on the part of the public official. Nonfeasance in office, however, if it is of such serious dimensions as to be equatable with misconduct, may be a basis for a special grand jury report. See S.Rep. No. 617, 91st Cong., 1st Sess. (1969), reprinted in 1970 U.S.C.C.A.N. 4007.

Reports involving public officials must connect "misconduct," "malfeasance," or "misfeasance" with "organized criminal activity." "Organized criminal activity" should be interpreted as being much broader than "organized crime;" it includes "any criminal activity collectively undertaken." This statement is based upon the legislative history of 18 U.S.C. § 3503(a), not of 18 U.S.C. § 3333, but both sections were part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, making it logical to construe the term the same way for both sections. See 116 Cong. Rec. 35,290 (October 7, 1970).

Before the district court may enter as a public record a special grand jury report concerning appointed public officers or employees, a complex procedure must be followed as set down in 18 U.S.C. § 3333(c).

If a court decides that a report submitted to it by a special grand jury regarding a public officer or employee does not comply with the law, the court may seal the report and keep it secret or, for remedial purposes, order the same grand jury to take additional testimony. For purposes of taking additional testimony, a special grand jury may be extended to serve for longer than thirty-six months (but this is the only exception to the thirty-six months limitation).

If the district court feels that the filing of a special grand jury report as a public record would prejudice the fair consideration of a pending criminal matter, the court is authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3333(d) to keep the report sealed during the pendency of that matter. Sealed for such a reason, the report would not be subject to subpoena.

When appropriate, United States Attorneys will deliver copies of grand jury reports, together with the appendices, to the governmental bodies having jurisdiction to discipline the appointed officers and employees whose involvement in "organized criminal activity" is the subject of the report. See 18 U.S.C. § 3333(c)(3). (The prospect of such disciplinary action does not prevent the officer's or employee's being compelled to testify under a grant of immunity.) See In re Reno, 331 F. Supp. 507 (E.D. Mich. 1971).

[cited in JM 9-11.330]