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Kaley v. United States

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: February 25, 2014
Case #: 12-464
KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, GINSBURG, and ALITO, JJ., joined. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-464_n7io.pdf

Criminal Procedure: A criminal defendant who is indicted does not have the constitutional right to challenge a grand jury's finding of probable cause.

The federal government seized Petitioners' assets.  Petitioners requested that the district court unseize the assets to pay legal fees.  The lower courts denied the request because Petitioners had no constitutional right to challenge the grand jury’s determination of probable cause. On appeal, the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

The Supreme Court affirmed and held that “[w]with probable cause, a freeze is valid” – even if the frozen assets are needed to pay attorney's fees. Additionally, the Court held that the grand jury has final say about probable cause, emphasizing the “fundamental and historic commitment of our criminal justice system . . . to entrust . . . probable cause findings to grand juries.” A criminal defendant who is indicted does not have the constitutional right to challenge a grand jury's finding of probable cause.