Secrets of Scandal: Nobody Likes Babies

By Jess Brownell, Researcher | Feb 7th, 2013

Olivia Pope and Verna ThorntonThis week’s Scandal is all about endings: the end of Olivia and Edison; the end of the lies between Cyrus and James; the end of Fitz’s innocence, as he learns the truth about what really put him in the White House; and the forced end of David’s quest to bring election rigging to light, at the hands of James’ lies before the grand jury.

When David serves James with a subpoena to testify before the federal grand jury, he certainly expects a very different ending to his election rigging case. Maybe because, as David says in court, lying under oath at the federal level is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Testifying before a federal grand jury is not your average courtroom rodeo. First of all, the proceedings are completely secret. The purpose of grand juries is to decide whether it is probable that a crime has been committed; if the 16-23 grand jurors believe one has, than they will issue a criminal indictment. The jurors do not, however, decide guilt or innocence. Because of this, the witness (in this case James) does not get to have a lawyer present in the room (although James would be allowed to have one wait outside in the hallway). In fact, the only people who are allowed in the room during grand jury proceedings are the witness, the grand jurors, the prosecutors (in this case, AUSA David Rosen and his boss Pat Wexler), and a court reporter. There is no judge in grand jury proceedings; the jurors solely have the responsibility of deciding whether to issue an indictment. 

If James were to tell the truth in the grand jury proceedings, Cyrus would of course eventually be implicated in the trial. Now, there are rules about spouses testifying against each other. This is known as spousal privilege. The idea is to protect spouses from having to condemn each other, and thereby encourage spousal harmony. But the rule is specifically meant to protect confidential communications and direct observations that could condemn the spouse. So although James’ testimony might lead to Cyrus being condemned, the fact that he isn’t being asked about specific conversations with Cyrus or specific memories of him means that, unfortunately, he might have trouble invoking spousal privilege in this case. (The ugly fact that gay marriage is not yet recognized at the federal level would be another roadblock to using this defense…)

Without James’ testimony, the only thing David has left to make his case with is the Cytron memory card…that is until Abby makes the bold move of rekindling with David, only to steal said memory card out of David’s safe. Oh, that pesky redhead. So now, David basically has nothing. No job, no girlfriend, and no memory card. Poor, sad David.

But where there are endings, there are usually new beginnings. Will this really be the end of the election rigging case and the end of David’s career? Is Olivia finally out of hot water? Will David and Abby ever recover from Abby’s betrayal? And what will the repercussions be of Fitz learning about Olivia, Cyrus, and Mellie’s involvement in stealing the election for him? As always, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out!