Civil Procedure – Disclosure of Minutes When Grand Jury was Used for Purpose of Preparing for Civil Action

Three weeks after the close of a grand jury investigation of charges of criminal antitrust violations, the Government filed a civil complaint against defendants based upon materials accumulated by the grand jury. Defendants obtained discovery of the grand jury transcript, but the United States Supreme Court overruled, holding that defendants, by merely showing that the Government had not requested an indictment, had not shown “good cause” for discovery under rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court did indicate that a use by the Government of the grand jury for the sole purpose of preparing for a civil action would result in a subversion of the grand jury process and wholesale discovery of the transcript would be allowed. Defendants then filed interrogatories to determine at what point the Government decided to abandon the criminal action. On defendant’s motion for discovery, held, motion granted. If the Government decided at some time during the grand jury hearings that it would not seek an indictment and nevertheless continued the proceedings, there was a subversion of the grand jury as the Supreme Court defined it, and the minutes of the proceedings after the Government abandoned the criminal action should be made available for defendant’s inspection. United States v. Proctor & Gamble, 174 F. Supp. 233 (D.C.N.J. 1959).