NY Times: Prosecutors’ Secrecy Orders on Subpoenas Stir Constitutional Questions by Stephanie Clifford:
Marked with an official seal, the federal subpoena arrived at the red brick offices of Zuccarello, Zerillo & Co., an accounting firm in Whitestone, Queens, in early March.
Prosecutors wanted records about one of the firm’s clients: a Queens family, the Gigliottis, who were under investigation for cocaine smuggling. It was a routine enough request, but for the words in capital letters: “You are hereby directed not to disclose the existence of this subpoena, as it may impede an ongoing investigation.”
Those 19 words triggered a fierce legal tussle that resulted last week in a sharp rebuke of the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn by a federal judge. At issue is a question that has long caused tension among prosecutors, defense lawyers, witnesses and judges: Do prosecutors, eager to protect their cases, go too far and even violate a constitutional right when they ask witnesses to keep quiet about subpoenas?