In Re: Grand Jury (Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) Limited), No. 07-2353 (10/10/08 -- reissued for obvious reasons). This is an interesting case. Although some Republicans are trying to scare us with the use of the word “Islamic” or “Muslim” (some of the people writing these applause lines are lawyers who have Muslim friends but just like trolling the “lay shit”). So, to all you Muslims out there, I say this: don’t take it personally. Americans hate people more on the basis of their class than religion. For some reason, everyone likes Bahamians. Anyway, where was I?
Oh, this case is interesting because it involves the power of a District Court to hold someone in contempt. Essentially, IICG was the subject of grand jury proceedings. The AUSA started communicating with a lawyer for a former employer that had sued them, and the lawyer told the AUSA about the state court proceedings and gave the AUSA copies of various discovery orders and pleadings. But the lawyer didn’t stop there. He gave the documents to various members of the press. IICG pointed to the local rule that said that everything provided to the grand jury is presumptively under seal, and said that the lawyer should be held in contempt. The District Court refused (in a long opinion). IICG says that the trial court didn’t understand that it had the inherent power to hold the lawyer in contempt. (The District Court concluded that the lawyer wasn’t subject to any of the local rules regarding grand jury secrecy.)
The First says that the lawyer didn’t know that the documents he provided were sealed in the first place, and besides this lawyer isn’t a member of the Massachusetts bar and lacks a reason to know that he was violating a rule.