In re Blue Grand Jury: 8 points

I reported on Judge Schiltz’s In re Blue Grand Jury investigation final order yesterday morning as soon as it was released. A copy of the final order is appended to my linked post. The massive investigation described in the order was triggered in part by an illegal leak of grand jury information to the Star Tribune regarding the prospective federal indictment of Derek Chauvin et al. following Chauvin’s state-court murder conviction.

The Star Tribune reports on Judge Schiltz’s order in Stephen Montemayor’s story “Federal judge ends probe into leaks of grand jury proceedings surrounding George Floyd’s death.” Subhead: “State and federal investigations failed to uncover the source of information published by the Star Tribune and New York Times.”

The story is nowhere to be found on the Star Tribune’s crowded home page. Before we leave the subject, I want to itemize a few points that are not readily apparent from the Star Tribune coverage of Judge Schiltz’s order.

• Montemayor’s story lacks any specific mention of Andy Mannix’s April 29, 2021 Star Tribune story involved in the investigation. It doesn’t even mention Mannix by name. His story is here. I have used Mannix’s Star Tribune photo as the thumbnail for this post on our homepage.

• Mannix reported that the federal grand jury would be handing up indictments of Chauvin et al. The federal indictments followed Mannix’s story about a week later. The Department of Justice press release is posted here.

• Mannix’s story referred to “Justice Department officials” and “federal prosecutors.” I infer from the story that the leak came from that world (including the FBI) rather than from the state side of the case.

• Despite the breadth of the investigation, including examination of devices and emails, I infer that at least one of the parties who filed sworn statements responding to Judge Schiltz’s order may have lied about his knowledge of the leaker and his responsibility for the leak.

• In the concluding paragraph of his order, Judge Schiltz states his disappointment that “the sources of the [leaked] grand‐jury information were not identified [as a result of the investigation], particularly because one or more of those sources may have committed a crime and may have been a prosecutor or law-enforcement officer who had sworn to uphold the law.”

• Mannix knows the law enforcement source who leaked the grand jury information to him and therefore who “may have committed a crime.” The public interest in the identity of Mannix’s sources far exceeds the public interest in learning that the federal indictments were imminent. The indictments were to be made public in due course and in short order.

• Montemayor neither named Mannix nor asked him for a quote. Rather, he asked Star Tribune senior vice president and general counsel Randy Lebedoff for comment. Montemayor quotes her: “I am glad the court has ended this costly and intimidating hunt for information which was always protected under the First Amendment.” I doubt the accuracy of that comment (ask my friend Judy Miller) as well as its relevance to the illegal misconduct committed by “a prosecutor or law-enforcement officer sworn to uphold the law.” Mannix tweeted out Randy’s comment (above).

• The public interest in the leak of the grand jury information reported by Mannix was nil. The public interest in the identification of the leaker was considerable and remains within the knowledge of the Star Tribune.

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