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Grand-Jury Materials Are Protected From Disclosure

(CN) - California courts do not have broad, inherent power to order disclosure of grand-jury materials to private litigants, the California Supreme Court ruled.

The decision reverses an appellate court ruling in Goldstein v. Los Angeles Superior Court, which found that courts have inherent power to order disclosure of grand jury materials in the interests of justice. The state high Court ruled that the power "would swallow the statutory rules."

A grand jury report helped free Thomas Goldstein after it found that a witness in his case was wrongfully influenced by an inmate witness program. An appellate court then allowed Goldstein to access evidence from the grand jury report for use in his civil rights lawsuit.

The California Supreme Court found that courts do not have the power to grant more access to grand jury records than state legislature already provides. However, the court did agree with the lower court that a penal code allows Goldstein to access grand jury testimony to determine whether it is consistent with a witness' subsequent testimony.

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