When the Independent Counsel’s Office leaked the fact that staff lawyers thought the president should be indicted for lying to the grand jury, it could have been in violation of the law forbidding prosecutors from revealing grand jury information. It wasn’t because the facts were already well known to the public.

Thus did a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reverse a show-cause order entered against the office of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr by Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson in January 1999. Released on Sept. 13, the unanimous per curiam opinion rejects Judge Johnson’s sweeping interpretation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which prohibits prosecutors from making public any “matters occurring before the grand jury.” In re: Sealed Case(Office of Independent Counsel Contempt Proceeding), No. 99-3091.

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