As the blog BLT indicates, the legal saga involving an improperly dismissed grand juror has finally come to an end. The U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled that Peter Atherton cannot sue a prosecutor and a court official for improperly dismissing him from a grand jury.
This case arose from Atherton's service as a grand juror. Atherton claimed that the prosecutor who brought charges before the grand jury had him removed because he asked too many questions. The prosecutor claimed that Atherton was being disruptive and failed to follow instructions. Atherton argued that he could only be removed by a judge, not the prosecutor. The appellate court ultimately determined that the prosecutor and another court official had qualified immunity and the issue about who could remove a grand juror was unclear at the time of Atherton's dismissal.
Although Atherton's suit was ultimately dismissed, his case has led to a new court rule that requires judicial consultation prior to the removal of any grand juror in D.C. Superior Court. His case also might give prosecutor's second thoughts about how they treat grand jurors and the grand jury process as a whole.
The appellate opinion is available here.