A Little Privacy

When I was selected for grand jury duty decades ago, I learned a great deal.  I would suggest that one and all, if you are given the chance, take it.  It is a very enlightening experience.

First, it will open your eyes to the sort of people that are in this world.  Believe me, they are not all good.  Second, it will help you to realize that what you read in the paper is not always as it appears.

Indeed, there are many things it will teach you.  However, the one thing I learned on the first day is something they should teach in school, but don’t.  To the best of my knowledge, no one ever taught me one thing about grand juries or their purpose in all my twelve years of going to school.

Fortunately, the district attorney told us about them.  They actually serve three purposes.  They can perform investigations.  Indeed the grand jury I was on did perform a small investigation.  Primarily, the district attorney presents evidence and on the basis of that evidence, they vote, true bill or no true bill.

The interesting part about this is that if a true bill is returned, no one knows but the district attorney (and his team) and those on the grand jury.  The one being charged does not get a chance to pack his bags and head for Mexico, which he could do if he was forewarned.

Also, if a no true bill is returned, nothing happens.  Not only does the suspect not find out about it, but none of his friends, neighbors or family find out about it either.  It is one of the great parts about our justice system.  If the DA can’t get a true bill, he can’t ruin your reputation.  This is especially good, because if the DA can’t get a true bill against you, your boss will never know you were under investigation.  Neither will your girlfriend or boyfriend.

Moreover, it has been commonly held that any investigating body should keep things private for that reason.  In general, police do not go around telling the world that they are investigating John Doe until they have sufficient evidence to charge him with something.  I think everyone can see that this is a good practice and should be carefully followed.

Knowing this, I was surprised that when the southern US district court judge gave out the name of person “number three” when the demand was made by the an attorney representing The New York Times and some news channel.  She should have refused.  The man was not being charged and wasn’t even being investigated.  He wasn’t even a suspect.  Apparently, what he was guilty of was holding a few conversations with a friend, an attorney who also represents President Trump.

So, the Judge ordered the name be made public and we all now know he is Sean Hannity.  In this case, it did no harm.  However, it could have.  As it was, Mr. Hannity had to defend himself before Fox News, though he did nothing wrong.  Had it been something that he wanted kept quiet, too late now.

One of the things our justice system is supposed to do is protect the innocent people from being railroaded by over zealous investigators.  The judge, at the least, should be censured.  Yet, we have not heard one peep from the Bar association.  We have not heard a complaint from any official.

This of course means, if you are conservative, the justice system will not protect you.  Indeed, you need to be careful who you talk to.  You will need to be wary of what you say.  You will need to take care at hiring a lawyer.  Else, if you don’t, your name might appear on the front page of one of the best known newspapers in the world.

On the other hand, if you are a liberal, don’t worry about it.  It will never happen to you, that is, unless all the newspapers and media suddenly become conservative.  Then where will you be?  No need to worry.  That will not happen in our lifetime.

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