Although it had been previously recognized that a defendant was entitled to inspect grand jury testimony in certain circumstances, in Dennis v. United States the Supreme Court first granted disclosure on the ground that sufficient "particularized need" had been shown. Although failing to clarify adequately the constituents of this verbal formula or to define fully the procedure to be utilized, the Court nevertheless clearly implied a disposition toward liberal disclosure. In light of the lack of substantive specificity in Dennis, subsequent lower court interpretations have generally emphasized the permissive tenor of the opinion to promulgate rules of automatic disclosure in certain factual situations. These rules, however, differ greatly in scope and rationale. Consequently, the defendant to a federal indictment remains unable to invoke any uniform standard by which his access to a grand jury transcript may be determined. It is arguable that the confusion of the present law may be remedied by providing the defendant with recourse to a standard of disclosure based upon constitutional principles mandating due process in criminal proceedings rather than solely upon judicial discretion.
Defense Access to Grand Jury Testimony: A Right in Search of a Standard,
1968 Duke Law Journal
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol17/iss3/3