United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
KEITH WATKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
federal grand jury indicted Defendant Therral Hatfield in
2010. A petit jury then convicted him. Mr. Hatfield now moves
“for an in camera review of the grand jury
record and hearing.” (Doc. # 251.) But that motion is
due to be denied.
April 2010, a grand jury indicted Mr. Hatfield for
kidnapping, see 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1), and
possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence,
see Id. § 924(c)(1)(A). (Doc. # 9.) The grand
jury added a second kidnapping charge in its July 2010
superseding indictment. (Doc. # 48.) After a petit jury found
Mr. Hatfield guilty on all counts (Doc. # 148, at 196-98),
the court sentenced him to 384 months in prison (Doc. # 186,
at 2). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed on direct appeal.
United States v. Hatfield, 466 Fed.Appx. 775 (11th
Cir. 2012) (per curiam).
his conviction, Mr. Hatfield has repeatedly moved to vacate,
set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. §
2255. The court has denied each motion. See Hatfield v.
United States, No. 13-cv-324, 2015 WL 6438349 (M.D. Ala.
Oct. 21, 2015); Hatfield v. United States, No.
13-cv-324, 2018 WL 4323919 (M.D. Ala. Sept. 10, 2018);
Hatfield v. United States, No. 16-cv-510, 2019 WL
1573694 (M.D. Ala. Apr. 11, 2019).
2019, Mr. Hatfield moved “for an in camera
review of the grand jury record and hearing.” (Doc. #
251.) The United States opposes that motion; it wants to keep
the grand jury record secret. (Doc. # 253.) The motion is now
jury proceedings . . . have long been protected by a veil of
secrecy.” United States v. Phillips, 843 F.2d
438, 441 (11th Cir. 1988). The reason is simple: The
“proper functioning of our grand jury system depends
upon the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.”
Douglas Oil Co. of Cal. v. Petrol Stops Nw., 441
U.S. 211, 218 (1979); id. at 218 n.9 (“The
rule of grand jury secrecy . . . is an integral part of our
criminal justice system.”).
Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) “codifies this secrecy
principle and prohibits the disclosure of grand jury material
except in the limited circumstances provided for in Rule
6(e)(3).” United States v. Aisenberg, 358 F.3d
1327, 1346-47 (11th Cir. 2004). The only exception that could
even possibly apply here is one providing that a court
“may authorize disclosure . . . preliminarily to or in
connection with a judicial proceeding.” Fed. R. Crim.
P. 6(e)(3)(E)(i). But before a court may authorize
disclosure under that exception, Mr. Hatfield must show: (1)
the material he seeks “is needed to avoid a possible
injustice in another judicial proceeding”; (2)
“the need for disclosure is greater than the need for
continued secrecy”; and (3) his “request is
structured to cover only material so needed.”
Aisenberg, 358 F.3d at 1348 (quoting Douglas Oil
Co., 441 U.S. at 222).
satisfy the second requirement, Mr. Hatfield “must show
a compelling and particularized need for disclosure.”
Id. That is, he must show “circumstances
[have] created certain difficulties peculiar to this case,
which could be alleviated by access to specific
grand jury materials, without doing disproportionate harm to
the salutary purpose of secrecy embodied in the grand jury
process.” Id. at 1348-49 (quoting United
States v. Elliott, 849 F.2d 554, 558 (11th Cir. 1988)).
An overbroad request will not do. See United States v.
Davis, 721 Fed.Appx. 856, 861 (11th Cir. 2018) (per
curiam). And material should not “be released for the
purpose of a fishing expedition or to satisfy an unsupported
hope of revelation of useful information.” United
Kingdom v. United States, 238 F.3d 1312, 1321 (11th Cir.
2001) (quoting United States v. Rockwell
Int'l Corp., 173 F.3d 757, 760 (10th Cir. 1999)).
Hatfield's motion does not show a compelling and
particularized need for disclosure. He offers a conclusory
allegation that prosecutors did not disclose grand jury
testimony that could have aided his defense at trial. (Doc. #
251, at 2.) But his barebones allegation does not give the
court any reason to believe that it is based on more than
mere speculation. That does not pass muster. See United
States v. Collins, 676 Fed.Appx. 830, 831 (11th Cir.
2017) (per curiam) (“General or unsubstantiated
allegations do not satisfy the particularized need
requirement.”). It also appears that Mr. Hatfield wants
to access the entire grand jury record. If that is the case,
then his request is not particularized. Aisenberg,
358 F.3d at 1348.
reasons above, Defendant Therral Hatfield's motion
“for an in camera review of the grand jury