subpoena power. The grand jury does not have to establish probable cause to issue a subpoena. The
standard is one of reasonableness. U.S. v. Dionisio, 315 L.Ed 2d 67. (1973).
The grand jury is allowed this broad leeway because it is an investigative body.
Its proceedings require secrecy; it must be free to conduct its ongoing investigations without
information becoming public. Disclosure of its proceedings would allow crimes to be covered up and
would lead to obstructions of proper law enforcement. The secrecy rule protects the identity of
witnesses and the substance of their testimony. The identity of witnesses must be protected; this can
be a life or death question. Their testimony must be protected because it could reveal the direction of
an investigation which is still ongoing. Advance knowledge of the steps of an investigation would allow
a wrongdoer to destroy evidence, intimidate witnesses, or engage in other actions which would hamper
The rule (6)(e)(2) itself states:
General Rule of Secrecy. A grand juror, an interpreter, a stenographer, an operator of recording
device, a typist who transcribes recorded testimony, an attorney for the government, or any person to
whom disclosure is made under paragraph 3(a)(ii) of this subdivision shall not disclose matters
occurring before the grand jury, except as otherwise provided for in these rules. No obligation of
secrecy may be imposed on any person except in accordance with this rule. A knowing violation of
Rule 6 may be punished as a contempt of court.
Rule 6(e)(2) sets out the secrecy requirement and the penalty for a violation of it. The courts
enforce its requirements strictly. The Supreme Court has enforced the secrecy requirement even after
the grand jury has been discharged, Douglas Oil Co. v. Petrol Stops Northwest, 60 L.Ed 2d 156 (1979).
The courts will only allow disclosure when there is a demonstrated need which outweighs the general
need for secrecy. The Court (in Douglas) set out the following test for release of grand jury transcripts:
The party seeking transcripts must:
1. show that the material they seek is needed to avoid a possible injustice in another proceeding;
2. show that the need for disclosure is greater than the need for continued secrecy; and
3. show that their request is narrowed to cover only material that is needed to prevent the injustice.
The district court which supervises the grand jury should rule on requests for disclosure. The
supervising court will make a written evaluation of the need for secrecy weighed against the need for
disclosure; (2) the court which is