Monday, June 01, 2009

U.S. Attorney's Office still keeping cooperation secret from public

Although Chief Judge Moreno and the rest of the SDFLA court have made plea agreements public again by allowing them to be accessed by PACER, the government is still attempting to keep cooperation agreements secret and off-line.

A number of AUSAs and AFPDs have emailed me the new government policy when a defendant is cooperating: Just delete those sections* from the plea agreement and include them in a letter agreement, NOT FILED WITH THE COURT. This new policy certainly circumvents the spirit of making deals open to the public. From what I understand, the prosecutors ask the court to go over the cooperation letter agreement with the defendant, but then ask for the letter not to be filed in the court record. I suspect that most judges will not abide by this request, especially because technically the letter is a matter of public record if reviewed in open court -- so why not file it...

But we'll have to see how this plays out.

*Those cooperation agreements never say anything anyway, so I'm not sure what the big deal is about including it in the open record.


Rumpole said...

Tag. You're it. Could use you in court today. But not in So Dist so don't go running through the hallways.

Anonymous said...

Once again, the Govt. behaving as though they are not subject to the law of the land.

Will be interesting to see how many Judges go along with this charade.

Steve said...

If the US Attorney's Office is looking for an easy way to comply with the requirement that plea agreements get filed with the Court, here's one option: ensure that each plea agreement has a supplement and file the supplement under seal. The supplement can either contain cooperation language or it can simply state that "this supplement contains no additional information." This is the practice in other districts and it seems to satisfy government counsel, defense counsel, and the bench.

Anonymous said...


That is pretty damn smart, but you have failed to recognize you are dealing with the US Atty's Office in the SD Fla....There is no fun in not trying to hide and mislead.

Anonymous said...

On a more interesting note:

Does the DOJ prosecute this guy who murdered the Kansas Abortion Dr. in the Drs. Church? Does the DOJ seek the death penalty on this one? Is it not a politically motivated act of terror.,