How the Federal Grand Jury Process WorksOn August 28, 2017 by Schnader
In this authoritative analysis based on extensive personal experience, Laurel Brandstetter lays out the inner workings of the federal grand jury process. She also assesses how this process may play out for the grand jury convened by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III as part of the Russia investigation.
Brandstetter writes: “The formation of a grand jury by Mueller as part of the Russia investigation has drawn attention to a process that is usually conducted out of the spotlight. Federal grand juries are a standard but often secluded part of the government’s investigation and prosecution of possible criminal acts. It may be helpful to pull back the curtain, look beyond the headlines, and examine the basic elements of the federal grand jury process, its common uses, and potential outcomes.”
Also see Brandstetter’s op-ed on the Mueller grand jury published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “What Mueller’s Empaneling of a Grand Jury Might Mean”.
Laurel Brandstetter is chair of Schnader’s Criminal Defense and Internal Investigations Practice Group. She served as Senior Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and was a prosecutor with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office. She has extensive experience with federal, state, and local grand juries and all aspects of representing criminal defendants. Her practice also includes conducting internal investigations for municipalities, school districts, universities, and corporate clients.
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UPDATE (12/01/2017): Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying to the F.B.I., as reported by The New York Times and other news outlets. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller, III charged Trump’s former national security advisor with lying to the FBI over the substance of his conversations with a Russian ambassador. The move indicates Flynn is cooperating with Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
UPDATE (11/14/2017): Laurel Brandstetter authored an opinion piece published by PennLive/The Patriot-News, “Here’s One Thing We Know For Sure About Trump/Russia Probe – Robert Mueller Is Playing For Keeps”. The op-ed shares “behind the scenes” strategies that Mueller’s indictments seem to point to.
UPDATE (10/30/2017): “Three former Trump campaign officials charged by special counsel”, as reported by the Washington Post and other news outlets. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller, III moves the investigation forward by seeking grand jury indictments against three former campaign officials, to include Trump’s onetime campaign chairman. One former campaign official reportedly pled guilty and is cooperating with the special counsel. The non-Russia related charges of the other two campaign officials may lead to additional indictments.
UPDATE (8/30/2017): CNN and other news outlets report “Special counsel subpoenas Manafort’s former attorney and spokesman”. Issuing grand jury subpoenas to the lawyer of a potential witness or target is an aggressive move rarely taken by prosecutors. The disclosure of the issuance of subpoenas raises significant issues involving grand jury secrecy and potential leaks that can undermine the integrity of the investigation. As experienced counsel for defendants and witnesses before grand juries, Schnader’s lawyers take every precaution to preserve attorney-client confidentiality and to protect against leaks of grand jury material.