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General Laws

Section 13D. (a) Whoever knowingly distributes or possesses with intent to distribute any transcript of grand jury testimony or any substantially verbatim description of grand jury testimony with the intent to impede, obstruct, delay or otherwise interfere with any criminal proceeding, or the participation of any victim, witness or juror in any stage of a trial, grand jury, or other criminal proceeding, or the continued participation of any person furnishing information to a criminal proceeding, or the continued participation of any person furnishing information to a criminal investigator relating to a violation of any criminal statue, shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 21/2 years or in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. Nothing in this subsection shall abridge any right protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed so as to prohibit any person performing an official function in relation to the grand jury from disclosing a grand jury transcript or description thereof pursuant to Massachusetts Rules of Procedure or Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6.

(c) Any attorney representing a defendant in a criminal proceeding, including court appointed counsel, who receives a grand jury transcript or a description thereof related to such proceeding from a prosecutor, may provide the transcript or description to his client or any investigator employed by such attorney or another attorney employed by, or appointed by the court to represent, his client, unless such transfer would be in violation of a protective order from a court of competent jurisdiction. Such attorney may further disclose a grand jury transcript or description thereof related to such proceeding to assist in the legal defense of another defendant in a criminal proceeding, unless such transfer would be in violation of a protective order from a court of competent jurisdiction.

(d) Upon motion of the commonwealth and after hearing, a court may issue a protective order prohibiting defense counsel from distributing grand jury transcripts to a criminal defendant, if the commonwealth demonstrates that the defendant is accused of a violent crime, as defined in section 121 of chapter 140, and that there is a reason to believe, based on specific and articulable facts including, but not limited to, the defendant’s past history of violence and the nature of the charges against the defendant, that the defendant poses a threat to a witness or victim. The defendant shall have a right to cross examine any commonwealth witness. In making a determination relative to the issuance of a protective order under this section, the court shall consider whether the defendant has an exceptional need to receive such grand jury transcripts.

(e) Any grand jury transcript or document citing or describing grand jury testimony filed with any court shall be filed and maintained under seal, unless the paper is filed in a criminal prosecution for perjury before a grand jury.

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