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February 2009
California Supreme Court Limits Disclosure of Grand Jury Evidence to Civil Litigants
The California Supreme Court in Goldstein v. Superior Court has clarified that California courts have no inherent power to order disclosure of grand jury evidence to civil litigants under circumstances that are not specified in the California Penal Code.  Because the number of California county-level grand jury investigations is steadily rising, and it is increasingly common for grand jury investigations to precede or accompany civil actions for damages or restitution, California’s limits on civil litigants’ access to grand jury evidence have the potential to affect a greater number of civil litigation matters than ever before.  This article explores the background of California’s limits on the disclosure of grand jury evidence, the Goldstein decision, and some of its practical implications for future California civil actions.