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The long-running legal saga of 18 former grand jurors impaneled 15 years ago during a case involving the Cold War munitions factory Rocky Flats moved forward last week in a decision the jurors’ attorney, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, says could change the grand jury system. A three-judge federal appeals panel in Colorado ruled June 15 that the jurors have standing to demand that the government release certain information the jurors discovered during their impanelment, despite Rule 6(e), the federal rule that bans the disclosure of grand jury information. “[I]t is apparent that the plaintiffs have a �judicially cognizable interest’ in stating what they know,” wrote Judge Harris Hartz, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. FBI agents raided the munitions plant in 1989, and for two and a half years a grand jury met to investigate possible violations of environmental law. Although the jurors submitted draft indictments against Rockwell International and the Department of Energy, the U.S. attorney struck a deal with Rockwell that allowed the company to plead guilty to five felonies and pay an $18.5 million fine. In 1996, the grand jurors filed a petition seeking to speak publicly about evidence it had found of possible criminal prosecutorial misconduct. The 10th Circuit remanded the case to U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, telling him that he had the authority to make an exception to the 6(e) rule.
T.R. Goldman can be contacted at [email protected].

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