Gag Reflex

The passage of time has also changed the personnel involved in the case. Federico Pena is now head of the Department of Energy; Rockwell no longer runs Rocky Flats. And with Finesilver retired, the legal action has moved to Matsch's courtroom. Even before the McVeigh trial, Matsch had a reputation for disliking any manipulation of the judicial system--by anyone, the government included. The grand jurors are counting on that. "They have evidence of obstruction of justice at Rocky Flats," Turley argued at one hearing, "but more important are efforts by the Department of Justice to obstruct their efforts in the grand jury room."

Both the government and Rockwell filed objections to the grand jurors' petition. Rockwell's attorneys argued that one of the primary reasons the jurors wanted to talk was so they could consummate book and movie deals.

If a film is ever made of this case, though, it won't be an action flick.
The paper chase continued through the fall, with numerous motions made to Matsch. And then the grand jurors got down to serious business: working with Turley to compile a "proffer" outlining what they would say if they ever got a chance to say it. Matsch received that document in late February. A month later, the judge sealed the files and issued his gag order.

But at the same time, Matsch did something else--although no one could talk about it: He opened the door a crack by agreeing to this week's closed-door hearing. After that, the case could blow wide open--or be closed for good.

"The controversy surrounding Rocky Flats stands as a textbook example of the value and vital role of the grand jury in our system of government," Turley argued in one of his motions.

It also stands as a textbook example of how an unlikely combination of people--a bus driver, a swim coach, a hair dresser, a bartender, an attorney--will stand together to fight for what they believe in.

Plutonium lasts forever. But so does the burning desire to see justice done.

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