Judge Gottschall Cautions: Attaching a Grand Jury Transcript to a Motion, without Illinois Court Approval, is Punishable by Contempt

In response to a motion to reconsider the granting of summary judgment, defendants attached a copy of the grand jury testimony to support their contention that probable cause existed to prosecute the plaintiff, requiring dismissal of plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim.  Addressing the grand jury transcripts, Judge Gottschall explained:

[Defendants] attached a portion of the grand jury testimony to their motion for summary judgment. Disclosure of Illinois grand jury testimony is prohibited by law absent an order from an Illinois court, and improper disclosure is punishable by a contempt of court action.  (citations omitted). The secrecy of grand jury proceedings is maintained “to insure the grand jury freedom in its deliberations, to prevent subornation of perjury, to encourage disclosure by witnesses, and to protect the innocent from unwarranted exposure,” as well as to “assure freedom of deliberation of future grand juries, and the participation of future witnesses, as well as to provide these assurances to those who appeared before the instant proceeding.” (citations omitted). There is no indication from [Defendant's] papers that a prior order from an Illinois court was obtained which authorized disclosure of this transcript, nor is it clear how this document was obtained. This exhibit is stricken from the record, though Defendants may resubmit it upon a showing that disclosure is legally authorized. 

The Court also disagreed with the premise that because the Grand Jury indicted the plaintiff without testimony from the defendants, defendants cannot be held liable for prosecution.  Defendants were unable to establish that the indictment came independently from them. 

The decision also discusses the Seventh Circuit's holding in Village v. Hoffman Estates, namely that a finding of probable cause for any arrest does not necessarily forecloses every malicious prosecution claim.   Probable cause needs to be established for each count of the prosecution. 

Akbar v. City of Chicago, 2008 WL 5272463 N.D.Ill.,2008.


This is a first for me.  Do we need to re-examine the use of grand jury transcripts in civil cases?