March 10, 2009

Robert Wilkins quoted in Legal Times story on ousted grand juror

1 min

Robert Wilkins was quoted in a March 2, 2009 Legal Times story about Peter Atherton - an ousted D.C. Superior Court grand juror - and his suit against the prosecutor and court official who removed him.

Atherton was removed from a case in 2001 after complaints from fellow jurors that he was disruptive and held up the judicial process. He was removed from the jury by a prosecutor and court official, even though Superior Court rules say the chief judge controls grand juror discipline. Atherton was dismissed without the chief judge's knowledge.

Atherton filed suit against the D.C. Court, seeking damages for alleged civil rights violations and jury tampering.

Wilkins, Venable partner and former lawyer with the Public Defender Service in D.C., says the need for a clear record of grand juror discipline - including a hearing in front of a judge - is important in the event misconduct becomes an issue in a criminal case later on.

Typically, it's the prosecution that knows the secrets of the grand jury. The information given to defense counsel is restricted. "It's only because this grand juror blew the whistle that any of this came out," Wilkins says.