The grand jury testimony of former state health chief Bruce Greenstein should not have been made public in December, but that is no reason to throw out more than half of his perjury indictment, a state appellate court in Baton Rouge ruled Thursday.
State District Judge Lou Daniel refused in March in toss five counts of Greenstein’s nine-count indictment. Those five counts related to Greenstein’s 2014 grand jury testimony. The other four counts relate to his testimony before a legislative committee in 2011.
Daniel ruled state prosecutors did not violate Louisiana grand jury secrecy laws when they filed Greenstein’s grand jury testimony into the public case file.
The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal disagreed with that finding Thursday.
“While the trial court may have legally erred in finding that the disclosure was not a violation, the trial court did not err by ruling that quashing counts 5-9 of the indictment was not the appropriate remedy under the particular facts of this case,” Circuit Judges Page McClendon and Toni Higginbotham wrote.
Circuit Judge John Michael Guidry dissented.
John McLindon, one of Greenstein’s attorneys, said he will take the matter to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
“We agree that it was a violation of Louisiana’s grand jury secrecy laws, but we think the remedy should be the dismissal of all counts,” he said.
Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell, one of the Greenstein case prosecutors, said he’s glad Greenstein’s lawyers will ask the state’s highest court to review the matter.
“I really think that needs to be an issue decided in our favor,” Caldwell said of whether a violation of grand jury secrecy laws took place.
“We did everything right,” he added.
Greenstein, 45, is accused of lying to state lawmakers and an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury about events surrounding the award of a nearly $200 million Medicaid claims processing contract that went to Client Network Services Inc., where he once worked.
CNSI sued the state after the Jindal administration later canceled the contract.
The 1st Circuit explained that state prosecutors noted that the defense is entitled to a copy of a defendant’s grand jury testimony when they filed in the 19th Judicial District Court a “motion to disclose grand jury testimony.”
The appeals court said an order, which was prepared by the state and signed by 19th JDC Commissioner Quintillis Lawrence, stated: “A copy of the transcript shall be filed into the record.”
Higginbotham and McClendon said the commissioner “should have exercised caution to ensure that the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings was maintained by refusing to sign the order as presented, or by revising the order to read: ‘A copy of the transcript shall be filed into the record under seal’ or ‘A copy of the transcript shall be provided to the defense.’ ”
“Thus, as prepared, presented, and signed, the order and the subsequent filing of the grand jury testimony into the record constituted a violation of Louisiana’s grand jury secrecy laws,” the two judges wrote.
Greenstein’s attorneys last month filed a motion seeking to throw out the entire indictment, claiming none of his grand jury or legislative testimony was untrue.
Greenstein was indicted in September and has pleaded not guilty. He resigned as secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals in 2013.