The Grand Jury Investigation is perhaps the most critical inflection point in criminal proceedings, and your representation can mean the difference between battling a federal indictment for the next several years or getting back to business as usual.
Prosecutors use the grand jury process to gather evidence and present their case for criminal charges to be filed against a defendant. Whether you or your company is the subject of the investigation or has received a subpoena to provide evidence, you need experienced counsel to navigate the unique rules of this investigative process and position you for success in avoiding or defending criminal charges. Vinson & Elkins has successfully defended numerous companies and individuals in grand jury investigations across the country.
What is the Grand Jury Process?
All federal felony indictments, and many state felonies, first pass through the grand jury process. Investigations run the gamut of suspected violations of law concerning antitrust, securities, government contracts, banking, tax, healthcare, environment, corruption, and countless others. Prosecutors leverage broad grand jury subpoena powers to compel production of relevant documents and testimony, both from targets of the investigation and other individuals and entities that are suspected to possess relevant evidence. That evidence is then presented to a “grand jury”—a panel of individuals selected at random from the local district—which votes on whether to return an indictment.
All Parties are at Risk
Receiving a grand jury investigation notice or subpoena can have significant ramifications. Obviously, targets of the investigation are at risk of being indicted. Experienced counsel is needed to protect their rights, advocate and negotiate on their behalf with prosecutors, and position them to avoid, resolve, or defend any criminal charges. But prosecutors are not necessarily required to reveal your status, and the line between an investigation “target” and “witness” can be blurred. How you respond to a subpoena may make the difference in how you are treated.
The Grand Jury process is a major disruption, no matter your role. The only way to minimize that disruption and get you back to business is to have counsel that is practiced in the relevant substantive law, and the unique procedural rules that accompany grand jury proceedings. Those rules are critical, and include nuance in the subpoena service and response, confidentiality protections, constitutional rights to refuse testimony, and the availability and limits of potential immunity.
Vinson & Elkins attorneys have the experience to advise on these difficult issues, consider both the legal and business implications, and navigate the relationship with prosecutors to best position you and your company. Our team consists of several former high-profile government officials, including those holding the title of U.S. Attorney, Deputy Criminal Chief, Assistant Attorney General, and countless members of the Department of Justice. Our services include: helping clients develop a strategy for internally investigating and presenting materials and witnesses to the government; safeguarding clients’ confidential and privileged materials; defending against overreaches by investigating prosecutors; navigating relationships with other potential participants in the investigation; designing a legal defense; and interacting with prosecutors to negotiate the terms of subpoena responses, negotiate potential immunity, and present arguments for speedy resolution.
Our Grand Jury Investigation Defense team includes:
Zach Terwilliger: the former U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia, where he prosecuted federal crimes, as well as the litigation of civil matters, and led a staff of more than 300 criminal prosecutors, civil litigators and support personnel across four offices;
Mike Dry: the former Deputy Criminal Chief for the Eastern District of Virginia, with more than a decade of experience as a federal prosecutor, who has defended investigations of individuals and companies against a broad scope of legal allegations such as bribery, securities fraud and insider trading;
Fry Wernick: a former federal prosecutor and Assistant Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Fraud Section, Fry has a broad range of white collar enforcement and trial experience and regularly conducts internal investigations and defends companies and individuals against government investigations;
Ron Tenpas: a former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Associate Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Illinois, and Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Maryland and the Middle District of Florida, Ron draws upon his years of government experience in representing clients in civil and criminal investigations related to alleged environmental violations, imports and other matters;
Matt Jacobs: a former federal prosecutor, who also has defended numerous individuals and companies in Grand Jury investigations in a wide variety of industries from technology to securities and healthcare;
Craig Seebald: with 30 years of experience in the area, he has defended numerous companies in Grand Jury investigations;
Jessica Heim: with 15 years of experience in Investigations work, Jessica works with clients to conduct internal investigations and advises and defends them in government investigations and enforcement actions, whether brought by U.S. or international regulators; and
Jennifer Freel: for more than nine years, Jennifer served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Austin Division of the Western District of Texas during which she argued more than twenty times before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Representing private equity firm and asset manager in formal Securities and Exchange Commission grand jury investigation concerning disclosures related to the structure
Represented a Chinese company, the largest worldwide producer of MDI in the U.S., in a grand jury investigation and follow on civil suits
Representing a major corporation in a grand jury investigation being conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice relating to alleged antitrust violations
Defended individual in connection with grand jury investigation regarding insider trading
Defended E&P operator in response to BSEE investigation, third-party investigation, third-party SEMS audit, CSB inquiry, Congressional inquiry, and federal grand jury investigation arising from an incident on a production facility in the Gulf of Mexico
Defended international shipping parent holding company in grand jury investigation related to ocean pollution and alleged false record keeping and secured charging declination for parent
Represented corporate sustainability officer in grand jury investigation related to toxic chemical releases with no charges brought
Represented automotive engineering consulting company in grand jury investigation related to automobile emissions violations; secured favorable “ability to pay” criminal resolution and supported company in associated two year DoJ monitorship and negotiating non-debarment agreement for federal contracting
Defended pipeline inspection company in grand jury investigation; secured criminal declination after company had been designated a target based on admitted employee pipeline inspection document fraud violating company policy
Represented senior vice-president of logistics, purchasing agent, and compliance official in grand jury investigation of wood flooring company for alleged illegal imports; no charges brought against represented individuals
Represented senior research facility manager after being designated a target in grand jury investigation related to illegal chemical use, storage and disposal; secured declination