Facts (not, in this case, hypothetical):
1. A California D.A.’s office is conducting a grand jury investigation into the conduct of a candidate in next month’s elections.
2. The candidate is of the same political party as the D.A.
3. Several percipient witnesses — not targets, subjects, or persons of interest, but innocent people who merely happen to have relevant information — have been subpoenaed before the grand jury.
4. According to some of those witnesses, the Assistant D.A. working the case has told them that they are forbidden to discuss their grand jury testimony publicly, and that doing so will subject them to criminal penalties.
Could the A.D.A.’s reported assertion possibly be true?
Update Well, that was quick. My friend the California prosecutor says “yes.” California grand jury secrecy (unlike Federal grand jury secrecy under Rule 6) extends to witnesses as well as the grand jurors and prosecutors. They are forbidden to discuss the questions they were asked, the answers they gave, or the composition of the grand jury.
That leads to a second inquiry, which my friend couldn’t answer off the top of his head. Does the secrecy rule apply to the fact of the subpoena and the contents of any preliminary discussions with investigators or prosecutors? That is, can a grand jury witness, after testifying, say in public “I was called by an investigator for the D.A.’s office and asked questions X and Y about candidate Z. I was then given a subpoena, and I can’t say any more”?