Those hoops, though, are "short-circuited" when a grand jury is used for a purpose other than determining whether to indict someone, [Marcia Hofmann, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco] said.
And that has some people concerned.
[Ronald D. Barber, a media and First Amendment law attorney at Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky in Pittsburgh] said the prevalence of grand juries for purposes other than indictments is an "unknowable unknown."
"If people are going to secret grand juries and issuing subpoenas to small-time message board operators who are caving in, I don't know how we'd know that," Barber said. "It's very disturbing to me to see a government official at this high a level doing what was done here."
Bayard said federal courts would consider it "improper" for a prosecutor to use a grand jury to subpoena information regarding a sentencing.
"Usually, the grand jury is about an indictment," [Sam Bayard, the assistant director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society] said. "[The attorney general's office] seems to be using the wrong process."
While we're on the Corbett subject, Infinonymous points out that the Third District has ruled on Corbett's side in a suit filed by a former deputy attorney general in the attorney general's Pittsburgh office, who claimed he was fired in 2005 after saying the AG was making political hires. The federal judge who wrote the opinion was Pittsburgh's Tom Hardiman, who Bush II appointed to the appeals court in 2006.