About Target Letters

A certain Horse let a big one out of the barn today: federal grand jury target letters have gone out to.... TARGETS in Hoboken.

A shoe that's taken some time to drop.

GA's  legal department, Not-Stempler, had told me last June, "Target letters should be going out soon".  And then referred me to a short piece which gave a clear, concise explanation of what they were.

The take-away from reading it is this: the recipient of a target letter is likely to be indicted.   


Here it is:
Q: What is a federal grand jury “target letter”? Why and when would a target of the federal grand jury receive one? Does this mean that a person who receives such a letter is likely to get indicted?

A: Federal grand juries conduct investigations into possible violations of federal criminal law. They have the power to subpoena witnesses to appear before them to testify and produce information.

The Department of Justice has special policies when the subpoenaed person is either a “target” or a “subject” of the grand jury investigation. A “target” is someone the prosecutor or grand jury has substantial evidence to link to a crime, and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is likely to be indicted. A “subject” of a grand jury investigation is someone whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation.

Due to the potential for unfairness and misunderstanding in making a person who is likely to be indicted testify or produce documents before a grand jury, prosecutors must first attempt to get the target to voluntarily appear. If that doesn’t work, the prosecutor must get the approval of the grand jury and the United States Attorney or the responsible Assistant Attorney General in order to issue a subpoena.

In deciding whether to subpoena a target, prosecutors will consider the importance of the testimony or information sought, whether the prosecutor can get the testimony or information from other witnesses, and whether the answers to the questions the prosecutors and grand jurors intend to ask would be privileged.

If the target of a grand jury investigation is subpoenaed, it’s the policy of the Department of Justice to advise the witness of his or her rights, either by attaching an “advice of rights” form to the subpoena or in a letter than accompanies the subpoena. In the case of a witness who’s the target or subject of the investigation, the following advice is provided: “The grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of Federal criminal laws involving: [the general subject matter of inquiry, for example ‘conducting an illegal gambling business in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1955’]. You may refuse to answer any question if a truthful answer to the question would tend to incriminate you. Anything that you do say may be used against you by the grand jury or in a subsequent legal proceeding. If you have retained counsel, the grand jury will permit you a reasonable opportunity to step outside the grand jury room to consult with counsel if you so desire.”

Targets are also advised that their conduct is being investigated for possible violation of federal criminal law