Lawyer letter: AG requested Prude grand jury to be unsealed 4 days before the jurors decided

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Lawyers for the Rochester Police officers investigated in the death of Daniel Prude have agreed to release the grand jury testimony, but not before they raise a concern about the timing of it.

In a letter to the court, one of the lawyers for the police officers says the New York State Attorney General’s official request to unseal the grand jury testimony was filed four days before the State Attorney General Leticia James said the grand jury actually decided.

The concern raised in the letter is over why the State Attorney General’s Office would file a motion to unseal the grand jury testimony before the grand jury made a decision.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Attorney General James walked to a lectern inside a Genesee Street church and released the decision of the Daniel Prude grand jury.

"We presented the strongest case possible," she said. "But today the grand jury decided not to indict any police officer on charges related to Daniel Prude’s death."

According to the letter dated Friday, March 19, to Monroe County Court Judge Karen Bailey Turner from attorney Matt Rich, the attorney general’s office filed a motion to unseal the grand jury testimony on Friday, Feb. 19, four days before the attorney general made her announcement about the grand jury’s decision in Rochester.

In the letter, Rich writes "…the panel was still seated and apparently had not voted. No court had yet "sealed the record," because the matter had not yet terminated in favor of the accused namely the officers who were apparently the targets of the investigation by virtue of a no bill."

Even though the letter states the AG’s office had no standing to make the motion when it did, Rich, attorney for four of the officers investigated, writes he and the lawyers for the other officers are "reluctantly consenting" to the release of the testimony.

In a press release dated Feb. 23, the attorney general’s office said the motion to unseal the grand jury testimony was "granted."

The letter goes on to say the police officers have nothing to hide.

The testimony will be released after it’s redacted.

I did some research with some lawyers. We found nothing that says a prosecutor cannot file a motion to unseal grand jury testimony before the grand jury votes.

I spoke to the AG’s press secretary, shared portions of the letter and asked for an explanation and comment. The AG has not provided one at this time.