Capitol Siege Prosecutors Lose Bid for Deloitte Help With Data

July 16, 2021, 6:58 PM

Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP is barred from helping federal prosecutors and other government staff sort and organize the huge volumes of electronic data and other evidence it has collected from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a federal court in Washington said Friday.

The investigation into the events has generated massive amounts of evidence—the most in American history, according to the government. The evidence ranges from video footage of the attack on the Capitol to social media posts to cell tower data, it said.

Recognizing that it needs an enormous database and will have to share exculpatory evidence with hundreds of defendants and their counsel, the government sought permission to employ Deloitte. It said Deloitte’s expertise is vital to effectively prosecuting the many cases that await.

But Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 prohibits the disclosure of grand jury materials to anybody who isn’t “government personnel.” The government argued that if hired, Deloitte’s employees would count as such personnel.

A federal judge disagreed. Rule 6 only permits the disclosure of grand jury information to “employees of public governmental entities and can’t be stretched to include a private contractor such as Deloitte, no matter how compelling the need for disclosure may be,” the opinion by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said.

Holding that a private contractor may be considered government personnel under Rule 6 “stands in tension with the text of the Rule and its legislative history,” the court said.

The government also argued that under another exception to the nondisclosure rule the court could just issue an order allowing the disclosure to Deloitte.

Although courts have authority to issue an order to release grand jury material in certain instances, the government didn’t show “a particularized need for the blanket disclosure” here, the court said.

The case is In re Capitol Breach Grand Jury Investigations Within D.C., D.D.C., No. 21-20 (BAH), 7/16/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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