Monday, August 01, 2011

City of Woodlake v. Tulare County Grand Jury (Cal. Ct. App. - August 1, 2011)

Some captions are pretty good teasers.  Like this one.  What the heck is the City of Woodlake doing litigating against the Tulare County Grand Jury?!  Inquiring minds definitely want to know.

It's a neat little case.  In 2009, officers from the Woodlake Police were shooting at a firing range and a bullet apparently fired from this range hit a civilian, Leland Perryman, a mile away.  Talk about bad luck.  Or, potentially, negligence.

Amongst the fallout from this event was an investigation by the Tulare Grand Jury, which wanted to see who (if anyone) was responsible for Perryman's injury.  So they understandably issued a pretty reasonable subpoena to Woodlake trying to discover the rules that existed at the shooting range, the layout of the facility, etc.  To which the City of Woodlake promptly responded by . . . stonewalling.  Moving to quash the grand jury's subpoena.

Glad to see law enforcement keenly concerned about making sure a grand jury can't do its job.

The trial court quashed the subpoena but the Court of Appeal reverses.  A grand jury doesn't have to demonstrate "good cause" to issue a subpoena.  That's its function.  It doesn't have to justify what it wants to look at in advance, or follow the usual rules for civil subpoenas.

Good opinion by Justice Detjen.