Definition: Greymail is a defense tactic available to government employees who have connections with national security. When charged with a crime, the defendent claims that classified records are necessary to the defense. The goal of the defense team is to request so many classified documents that the federal government says "no." At that point, the defense tries to convince a judge that they cannot get a fair trial without these records; the goal is to have the case or charges dismissed.
Graymail is particularly invidious because it is likely to be most successfully employed by former officials from the heart of the government machine who subsequently face trial.
Alternate Spellings: graymail
Examples:Oliver North - Iran-Contra Case. Charges were dismissed due to overwhelming request for classified documents; at one point, more than 350,000 pages of documents had been delivered. Attorney Attorney General Richard Thornburgh refused to declassify requested material, thus forcing dismissal of some charges. This was the first time an attorney general had ever taken such a step.