Seal Record in Federal Court

Federal court order, Darren Chaker
Criminal file sealed, Darren Chaker, seal records in federal court.

Federal court motion to seal or protective order, Darren Chaker looks how district courts have identified as one of them the need to avoid “jeopardizing ongoing or future investigations,” United States v. Milken, 780 F collaboration software. Supp. 123, 127 (1991), and “[t]he need for confidentiality of the investigation,” United States v. Park, 619 F. Supp. 2d 89, 94 (S.D.N.Y. 2009).  United States v. Huntley, 943 F. Supp. 2d 383, 386, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65057, *7, 2013 WL 1881536 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) The Government will routinely seek to seal records to protect the integrity of the Government’s ongoing investigations. See United States v. Haller, 837 F.2d at 87 (closure of paragraph of plea agreement appropriate because it was “essential to protect the secrecy of sensitive matters affecting a grand jury proceeding and an ongoing criminal investigation”)

“If release [of information] is likely to cause persons in the particular or future cases to resist involvement where cooperation is desirable, that effect should be weighed against the presumption of access.” Id. (citations [21] omitted); cf. In re City of New York, 607 F.3d 923, 941 (2d Cir. 2010) (citations omitted) (purpose of the law enforcement privilege is, among other things, “to preserve the confidentiality of sources, to protect witness and law enforcement personnel, to safeguard the privacy of individuals involved in an investigation, and otherwise to prevent interference with an investigation“). (emphasis added) Typically, law enforcement makes every effort to keep the identity of people involved and the investigation itself confidential. McIntyre v. United States, 447 F. Supp. 2d 54, 57, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63217, *1 (D. Mass. 2006) (“Disclosing a government informant’s identity is not an act embraced within the discretion granted to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”)

There is little doubt releasing details of a pending investigation can jeopardize not only the investigation, but alos the informant. The California Supreme Court found in People v. Seibel (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 1279, 1289, “And in the big-time drug business, to inform is to sign one’s death warrant.”]; People v. Pacheco (1972) 27 Cal.App.3d 70, 80 [“It does not take a lively imagination to realize that [disclosure of an informant’s identity] might constitute a death warrant for the informer”. (emphasis added)

“The Government seeks a protective order limiting the dissemination of the discovery materials it has produced, and will be producing, to Defendants. In particular, the Government’s proposed protective order seeks to prevent Defendants from making the discovery materials available to the public, including the media.”United States v. Smith, 985 F. Supp. 2d 506, 516, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177988, *12, 2013 WL 6576791 (S.D.N.Y. 2013)

With the above in mind, there is little doubt federal courts will continue to protect the existence of a pending investigation being leaked and use proper court orders to keep such under the cloak of secrecy.

Author: Darren Chaker

Darren Chaker decided to take an approach to life which differed from most. In lieu of seeking out another law firm to work for, Darren focused energy on helping others through volunteering time to help non-profits and working in overseas security tasks. Darren continues to blog about various legal topics, and contributes to .

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