Can members of a grand jury be successfully sued for statements about people under investigation? That question is being raised in connection with a special grand jury investigating hiring practices of Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, says the Louisville Courier Journal. Jury members asked a judge yesterday whether the state would represent jurors if they were sued for their actions. The judge assured them they could not be sued over an indictment. A prosecutor questioned whether jurors were reacting to efforts by Fletcher’s attorneys to block indictments. “I hope it was not the intention of the administration — through its attorneys talking about or addressing the issue of liability — to intimidate this grand jury,” said Assistant Attorney General Scott Crawford-Sutherland. “We certainly hope that in performing their duties that there’s nothing in the back of their minds to suggest that if they take some action that they’re going to get sued for doing public service.”
One issue is whether a pardon order that Fletcher issued prevents the grand jury from issuing more indictments. Yesterday, Rachel Auxier, jury forewoman, asked Judge William Graham: “If the jury were sued, would we be represented by the state?” Graham told the jurors they are not generally liable for their actions, but a final report cannot include the names of people who have not been indicted.