Grand Juror Doe v. Bell, No. 19-1436 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action seeking both a declaration that the State of Missouri's grand jury secrecy laws are an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech as applied to her and an injunction preventing their enforcement. Plaintiff was a grand juror serving on the grand jury that considered whether to bring criminal charges against a former police officer in the death of Michael Brown.
The court explained that it need not settle whether plaintiff's proposed speech is covered by the First Amendment or whether plaintiff waived her speech rights by swearing an oath to keep grand jury matters secret. The court held that, because Missouri's grand jury secrecy laws survive even the most exacting scrutiny, plaintiff failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted. As applied to plaintiff, the court held that section 540.320 of the Missouri Revised Statutes is narrowly tailored to serve Missouri's compelling interest in preserving the functioning of its grand jury system.