United States District Court, D. Maine
DAVID J. WIDI, JR., Plaintiff,
PAUL MCNEIL, et al., Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION TO DISCLOSE GRAND JURY
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 10, 2017, with serious misgivings, the Court allowed
David J. Widi, Jr. to proceed against the United States
Attorney's Office (USAO) on his claim that it violated
the Right to Financial Privacy Act (RFPA). Order on Mot.
for Recons. at 27-30 (ECF No. 392). Mr. Widi's
allegation involves whether the USAO subpoenaed his financial
records for presentation to a grand jury and then never
actually presented the records to a grand jury. Id.
at 29. In order to defend Mr. Widi's RFPA claim, the USAO
must be allowed to disclose grand jury proceedings relevant
to Mr. Widi's claim.
that it could not defend the case without disclosing relevant
portions of the grand jury proceedings, and that it could not
disclose grand jury proceedings without a court order, on
February 3, 2017, the USAO filed a motion to be allowed to
disclose grand jury proceedings. Mot. of the United
States Att'y's Office to Disclose Matters Occurring
Before a Grand Jury Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P.
6(e)(3)(E)(i) (ECF No. 407).
Widi's response to the USAO's motion was due on
February 24, 2017; he has not responded. It may be that Mr.
Widi has not responded because of his persistent difficulty
receiving some documents. See Order (ECF No. 418).
Nevertheless, the Court is proceeding forward with the
USAO's motion despite Mr. Widi's failure to respond.
First, the USAO's disclosure request comports with Mr.
Widi's theory of the case; both Mr. Widi and the USAO
need to know what happened with the subpoenaed financial
records at the grand jury in order to resolve the merits of
his RFPA claim. Furthermore, the USAO must be able to
disclose portions of the grand jury proceedings in order even
to answer the complaint and otherwise defend the RFPA claim.
Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) “codifies the
traditional practice of grand jury secrecy. With specified
exceptions, it prohibits grand jurors, interpreters,
stenographers, operators of recording devices, typists,
government attorneys, or any person to whom disclosure is
made under paragraph (3)(A)(ii) from disclosing
‘matters before the grand jury.'” In re
Grand Jury Proceedings, Miller Brewing Co., 687 F.2d
1079, 1088 (7th Cir. 1982). In fact, individuals who violate
the secrecy of grand jury proceedings may be subject to
criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 1503. In re
Grand Jury Proceedings, 814 F.2d 61, 70 (1st Cir. 1987).
same time, Rule 6(e)(3)(E) allows a court to order disclosure
of a grand jury proceeding “preliminary to or in
connection with a judicial proceeding” and “at a
time, in a manner, and subject to any other conditions that
it directs.” The United States Supreme Court
established three requirements before a court orders grand
jury proceedings released: (1) “the material . . . is
needed to avoid a possible injustice in another judicial
proceeding, ” (2) “the need for disclosure is
greater than the need for continued secrecy, ” and (3)
“[the] request is structured to cover only material so
needed.” Douglas Oil Co. of Cal. v. Petrol Stops
Northwest, 441 U.S. 211, 222 (1979).
Court concludes that the USAO has met the Douglas
Oil criteria. The Court first concludes that the USAO
needs to be able to disclose relevant portions of the grand
jury proceedings in order to properly defend Mr. Widi's
RFPA claim and to prevent an injustice that would result if
it could not properly defend the claim due to the typically
secret nature of grand jury proceedings.
because the grand jury testimony is essential to the
USAO's defense, the Court concludes that the need for
disclosure is greater than the need for continued secrecy.
The need for secrecy in the narrow area of whether the
subpoenaed financial records were actually presented to the
grand jury is comparatively minimal. The First Circuit
explained that the “principal reasons for grand jury
secrecy” are “to protect the innocent against
unfair publicity and to prevent tampering or escape by
targets.” In re Special Proceedings, 373 F.3d
37, 47 (1st Cir. 2004). These reasons do not appear to apply
to the information the USAO is seeking to disclose in this
the Court concludes that the USAO has requested the right to
disclose grand jury matters only to answer the pending
complaint and to defend itself against Mr. Widi's RFPA
claim, and therefore its request is narrowly structured to
allow the release of only necessary material. Accordingly,
the Court concludes that the USAO has met the Rule 6(e)
criteria for grand jury disclosure as interpreted by the
Supreme Court and First Circuit.
Court GRANTS the Motion of the United States Attorney's
Office to Disclose Matters Occurring Before a Grand Jury
Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(3)(E)(i) (ECF No. 407). The
Court restricts the disclosure of such information to only
that information necessary for the United States
Attorney's Office to properly defend the Right to
Financial Privacy Act claim and orders the United States
Attorney's Office to return to this Court for such