- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (AP) - The transcript of Whitewater figure Susan McDougal’s grand jury testimony will remain sealed, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

McDougal sought the records for a screenplay or novel about the investigation into her business relationship with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis rejected her request.

Judge Diana E. Murphy wrote that McDougal failed to show she had a “particularized need” for the records, siding with a special judge who rejected her request last June.

Though the need for grand jury secrecy diminishes at the end of hearings, Murphy wrote that there is no statute that specifically authorizes releasing the records after their completion.

McDougal claimed court clerks sealed more of the grand jury proceedings than actually requested by the judge who oversaw the panel’s work _ and Murphy acknowledged that could be the case. However, McDougal failed to ask a lower court judge to review the records privately to determine whether a seal over the records was too broad, Murphy wrote.

Judges Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. and Lavenski R. Smith concurred with Murphy’s decision.

McDougal, a Camden native, could not be reached for comment Friday. Her lawyer, Bobby McDaniel of Jonesboro, did not immediately return a message left at his office.

McDougal was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in the probe that produced no charges against the former president or his wife, the nation’s current Secretary of State. McDougal served two months of a two-year term. She also served 18 months in jail for civil contempt based on her refusal to answer grand jury questions.

She then was indicted on criminal counts for refusing to talk to the grand jury in 1996 and 1998. At the time, she said she thought she’d be charged with perjury unless she falsely implicated the Clintons.

A federal jury acquitted her in 1999 of an obstruction of justice charge, but deadlocked on two contempt counts. She was not retried, and then-President Clinton pardoned her before he left office in 2001.

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On the Net:

8th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion: http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/09/03/082524P.pdf

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