Keyword: Secret dockets
Items: 13 (1 pages)
QUICKLINK Washington, D.C. · December 21, 2009 · Secret courts
The Justice Department has asked a judge to close a Jan. 7 hearing in the prosecution of five security guards charged with killing more than a dozen Iraqi civilians, The National Law Journal reported. The security guards worked for Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe, at the time of the shootings.
The government asked the U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina on Dec. 3 to close the hearing in order to “determine the use, relevance and admissibility of classified information in the prosecution,” the . . .[more]
QUICKLINK Utah · October 23, 2009 · Secret courts
Five Utah news organizations asked a federal judge to unseal records Monday that relate to the highly publicized kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, the Associated Press reported.
The Deseret News, The Salt Lake Tribune, the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Press Association and the AP cited a compelling public interest in the documents, including a report about defendant Brian David Mitchell’s mental competency. They argued . . . [more]
QUICKLINK District of Columbia · October 14, 2009 · Secret courts
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., today refused The Washington Post’s request to open the pretrial proceedings in the manslaughter prosecution of five security guards who were charged in an attack that left more than a dozen civilians dead in Baghdad.
The security guards were working for Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe, in 2007 when they allegedly participated in the unprovoked attack that killed 14 civilians and wounded 20 more.
The Post . . . [more]
NEWS MEDIA UPDATE U.S. · December 4, 2008 · Secret courts
The officer overseeing legal affairs for the United States Coast Guard has agreed to post all Coast Guard court martial dockets online in early 2009.
In a letter to the Reporters Committee, Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Judge Advocate General of the Coast Guard, said that he “hope[d], barring any unforeseen technical difficulties, to have the docket available by the end of January, 2009.” According to a 2008 survey by the Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University and the Reporters Committee, only the Army currently provides centralized online access to its dockets.
Baumgartner’s letter cited an August 2008 Reporters Committee white paper urging increased public access to military dockets, which list vital information about courts martial such as charges and hearing dates. The white paper found that “[u]nlike civilian courts, which routinely supply the public with detailed dockets, most military courts release docketing information sporadically at their own self-interested discretion, if at . . . [more]
QUICKLINK 3rd Cir. · November 17, 2008 · Secret courts
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has issued a notice pledging that all dockets – court records that list filings, hearing dates, and other basic case information – will be open to the public.
The notice comes amid controversy over secrecy in the circuit, stemming from a Pennsylvania employment discrimination case that was kept secret for more than seven years. Dozens of news organizations, including the Reporters Committee, . . . [more]
NEWS MEDIA UPDATE 9th Cir. · November 4, 2008 · Secret courts
A federal judge presiding over the prosecution of Thomas Kontogiannis, a friend of former Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham, released a previously-secret brief last week in which he criticized government prosecutors for “mischaracteriz[ing] substantial, relevant portions of the record” in their filings before an appellate court.
The brief was unsealed over vigorous government objections.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns filed the brief more than a year ago in the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) It remained sealed until October, when the court of appeals granted a motion by Copley Press Inc., publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune, to publicly release the document.
A window into a secret case
The release of the district court brief came on the heels of a Ninth Circuit decision in March that unsealed many other documents related to the largely secret case. Since 2007, Copley, the Reporters Committee and more than a dozen other news organizations have fought for access to hearings and documents related to the prosecution of Kontogiannis. The New York financier was charged with . . . [more]
— Rory Eastburg, 4:32 pm · Comments: 0
NEWS MEDIA UPDATE Texas · October 20, 2008 · Secret courts
A federal court on Thursday denied a newspaper’s request to intervene and unseal records in a sweeping corruption investigation in El Paso, Tex., but agreed to unseal some of the documents in redacted form.
Federal District Judge Frank Montalvo issued a 37-page ruling that denied El Paso Media Group’smotion to intervene in the long-running public corruption investigation for the purpose of challenging the blanket secrecy that has characterized the case, United States v. Ketner. So far the inquiry has included more than 80 "persons of interest," including dozens of El Paso public officials and three current or former judges.
Montalvo did make clear that the press had a right to challenge the sealing of court records and closing of hearings, writing that he must “balance countervailing concerns with the press and the. . . [more]
PRESS RELEASE Washington, D.C. · October 14, 2008 · Secret courts
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision that allowed all records in a federal employment discrimination case to be hidden from the public. The Reporters Committee filed the brief on behalf of itself and 29 other leading media organizations.
The friend-of-the-court brief was filed in support of The Legal Intelligencer, which petitioned the Supreme Court for review after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected its request to intervene in Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc. The newspaper sought to unseal the docket and record in Doe, a case in which the . . . [more]
— Posted at 6:18 pm · Comments: 0
QUICKLINK U.S. Supreme Court · September 15, 2008 · Secret courts
A legal newspaper in Pennsylvania has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision that allowed all records in a federal employment discrimination case to be hidden from the public.
The Legal Intelligencer petitioned the Supreme Court for review after the Third Circuit Court of Appealsrejected its request to intervene in Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc. The newspaper sought to unseal the docket and record in Doe, a case in . . . [more]
— Rory Eastburg, 5:05 pm · Comments: 0
NEWS MEDIA UPDATE Texas · September 9, 2008 · Secret courts
In response to a media group’s push for greater access to a sweeping public corruption investigation in El Paso, Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas agreed Tuesday to make available some redacted transcripts, but opposed any broader order forcing transparency in the case.
Nine defendants have so far pleaded guilty in the course of a four-year investigation that has involved dozens of local lawyers, elected officials and others, and the government pointed out that the court had already unsealed some documents from those hearings. The El Paso Media Group, which publishes The Newspaper Tree online, filed a motion to intervene last month asking the court to unseal more documents, put hearings on the public docket and explain the secrecy behind the investigation.
U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to respond by Sept. 5. The government claimed the media’s request is moot, pointing to two guilty pleas whose underlying proceedings were open -- one in 2005 and another . . . [more]
— Jason Wiederin, 5:29 pm · Comments: 0
NEWS MEDIA UPDATE Texas · August 7, 2008 · Secret courts
A long-simmering federal inquiry into public corruption in El Paso, Tex. has apparently yielded nine guilty pleas so far. Local attorneys, elected officials and judges have been swept up in the probe. Dozens of search warrants have been served, thousands of dollars seized.
Wiretap surveillance alone lasted two years.
And yet the people of El Paso know surprisingly little about this scandal and its 80 "persons of interest." U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo has sealed the case, wiped it off the dockets, closed hearings and taken guilty pleas in secret.
— Kathleen Cullinan, 4:01 pm · Comments: 0
QUICKLINK Pennsylvania · July 1, 2008 · Secret courts
A federal appeals court has rejected The Legal Intelligencer 's bid to access the sealed docket and files in a precedent-setting abortion case, in which a woman claims she was wrongfully fired for ending her pregnancy.
The first public glimpse of Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc. came in late May, when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia (3rd Cir.) published its opinion reversing a lower court's dismissal of the case. The . . . [more]
— Kathleen Cullinan, 11:59 am · Comments: 0
COMMENTARY · January 2, 2008 · Secret courts
A new court rule adopted by the Nevada Supreme Court places strict limits on a judge's ability to seal a civil case in the state, allowing the practice only if the "specified sealing or redaction is justified by identified compelling privacy or safety interests that outweight the public interest in access to the court record." While that leaves a great deal of wiggle room for a judge who wants to seal a case, it does at least establish a standard for sealing, and makes clear that the presumption is that court records should be open.
The rule also requires that sealing not be permitted if it would conceal a "public hazard," which is unfortunately not further defined.
In addition, the rule specifies that agreement between the parties is in itself not enough to justify sealing, and that redacting specific information in a document should be made rather than . . .[more]
— Gregg Leslie, 5:32 pm · Comments: 0