Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has refused to release grand jury transcripts related to the Breonna Taylor case despite growing public calls to do so by the Louisville mayor, the Kentucky governor, and Taylor’s family’s attorneys. But that all changed late Monday evening when Cameron announced he would comply with a judge’s ruling ordering a recording of the grand jury presentation be added to the court’s case file.
His about face also comes hours after an unidentified grand juror requested that any and all recordings, transcripts, and reports of the grand jury relating to the case be released to the public, a move a former KY prosecutor calls “totally surprising and tremendously uncommon.”
Cameron had previously said he wouldn’t disclose the grand jury presentation because it would interfere with other investigations. He reiterated that position Monday, saying, “we stand by our belief that such a release could compromise the ongoing federal investigation and could have unintended consequences such as poisoning the jury pool.”
“The Grand Jury is meant to be a secretive body,” Cameron said in the statement emailed from his office to CNN. “It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen. As the special prosecutor, our team has an ethical obligation not to release the recording from the Grand Jury proceedings, and we stand by our belief that such a release could compromise the ongoing federal investigation and could have unintended consequences such as poisoning the jury pool.”
“Despite these concerns, we will comply with the Judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday,” Cameron said.
Cameron’s statement came after Judge Ann Bailey Smith said the recording and all discovery documents cannot be shared simply between the parties. Smith oversaw the arraignment of former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in connection with Taylor’s killing.
The recording is in lieu of a transcript, which is common practice in Louisville. Taylor’s family and many others have called for the grand jury transcript to be released.
Cameron said the release of the recording “will also address the legal complaint filed by an anonymous grand juror.”
In addition to the release of recordings and transcripts, the juror, according to court documents obtained by CNN, is also asking the court to “make a binding declaration” that the grand juror has the right to disclose information and details about the process and details of the proceedings, particularly, the motion states, to avoid fears that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron would attempt to use the court’s powers of contempt in the case of a public disclosure.
“It is the fear of the Petitioner that, Attorney General Cameron would attempt to utilize the court’s contempt powers … if there was a public disclosure that contradicted certain things that he stated happened during the proceedings, characterized the singularity of the decision in a different light, or raised doubts about charges that were presented during the proceedings,” the motion states.
In the court filing, the juror references Cameron’s public statements maintaining that grand jury proceedings are secret and that Cameron “attempted to make very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision alone on who and what to charge” and that “the only exception to the responsibility he foisted upon the grand jurors was in his statement that they ‘agreed’ with his team’s investigation that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their actions.”
The juror, who writes in the court filing that they wish to remain anonymous, noted the “compelling public interest for these proceedings to be released,” particularly because of an exhibited distrust of the legal process by public citizens.
“The citizens of this Commonwealth have demonstrated their lack of faith in the process and proceedings in this matter and the justice system itself. Using the grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for these decisions only sows more seeds of doubt in the process while leaving a cold chill down the spines of future grand jurors,” the motion said.
Furthermore, the juror argues that Cameron has subjected them to a level of accountability that is unreasonable and that the legal system has put the grand jurors “on an island where they are left to wonder if anyone who finds them will treat them well or hold the plain and anger of the lingering questions against them.”
“It is patently unjust for the jurors to be subjected to the level of accountability the Attorney General campaigned for simply because they received a summons to serve their community at a time that adherence to the summons forced them to be involved in a matter that has caused such a palpable divide between sides,” the motion states.
The juror maintains that they are not seeking any monetary damages — “only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” the court document reads.
John Stewart, a criminal defense attorney and former Kentucky Assistant Attorney General told CNN that he’s never seen anything like grand juror’s filing in his professional experience.
“I’ve never heard of a grand juror asking the court to authorize the release of a transcript because they want to say something but don’t want to be held in contempt or violate any rules,” Stewart said. “It’s clear that this person is saying, ‘I want to speak the truth’ but are concerned they’ll violate the grand jury process … it seems they’re afraid the attorney general will come after them.”
CNN has reached out to the Kentucky governor’s office, and the Louisville mayor’s office for comment.
Both the Louisville mayor and the Kentucky governor have repeatedly called for the release of documents that won’t interfere with any other ongoing investigations related to the case.
Correction: The headline on an earlier version of this story incorrectly described the medium that will be used to release details of the grand jury proceedings. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron will release an audio recording.