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AP: Many Defendants' Cases Kept Secret (Indicator of our rights?)

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Tom Yossarian Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:07 PM
Original message
AP: Many Defendants' Cases Kept Secret (Indicator of our rights?)
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN and JOHN SOLOMON

WASHINGTON Mar 4, 2006 (AP) Despite the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of public trials, nearly all records are being kept secret for more than 5,000 defendants who completed their journey through the federal courts over the last three years.

Instances of such secrecy more than doubled from 2003 to 2005.

An Associated Press investigation found, and court observers agree, that most of these defendants are cooperating government witnesses, but the secrecy surrounding their records prevents the public from knowing details of their plea bargains with the government.

Most of these defendants are involved in drug gangs, though lately a very small number come from terrorism cases. Some of these cooperating witnesses are among the most unsavory characters in America's courts multiple murderers and drug dealers but the public cannot learn whether their testimony against confederates won them drastically reduced prison sentences or even freedom.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1687074&CMP...


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LiviaOlivia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:01 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'm saddened by the lack of responses to your post.
From Jeralyn at TalkLeft
http://talkleft.com/new_archives/014198.html

The Sixth Amendment guarantees public trials. But a recent investigation by the Associated Press has found that 5,000 defendants who passed through the federal courts had the details of their cases kept from public view.

At the request of the AP, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts conducted its first tally of secrecy in federal criminal cases. The nationwide data it provided the AP showed 5,116 defendants whose cases were completed in 2003, 2004 and 2005, but the bulk of their records remain secret.


On the one hand, there is good reason for this. Most of these defendants cooperated with the Government for a lesser sentence and provided information about confederates and other wrongdoers. If this information was not sealed, they would be in physical danger when they arrive at their designated prisons. No matter what you think of the system that allows defendants to purchase their freedom through ratting out others, they should not be placed in physical danger.

On the other hand, it's a morally bankrupt system that rewards defendants with lesser sentences in exchange for providing incriminating information about others. It increases the likelihood of false testimony. The law provides that the defendant must provide truthful testimony, but "truthful" in practice means truthful according to the Government. If they don't provide the Government's truth they don't get their reward. It's a powerful incentive to lie...(This practice has)doubled in the last three years:

The data show a sharp increase in secret case files over time as the Bush administration's well-documented reliance on secrecy in the executive branch has crept into the federal courts through the war on drugs, anti-terrorism efforts and other criminal matters.

The percentage of defendants who have reached verdicts and been sentenced but still have most of their records sealed has more than doubled in the last three years, the court office's tally shows.


~snip~

It's not just the outcomes that are being sealed. It's entire cases and proceedings. That's just plain wrong.

~snip~
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Tiggeroshii Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:19 PM
Response to Original message
2. scary. n/t
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 02:11 AM
Response to Original message
3. AP: Thousands of Federal Cases Kept Secret
AP: Thousands of Federal Cases Kept Secret
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN and JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writers

Saturday, March 4, 2006

(03-04) 23:21 PST WASHINGTON (AP) --
Despite the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of public trials, nearly all records are being kept secret for more than 5,000 defendants who completed their journey through the federal courts over the last three years. Instances of such secrecy more than doubled from 2003 to 2005.

An Associated Press investigation found, and court observers agree, that most of these defendants are cooperating government witnesses, but the secrecy surrounding their records prevents the public from knowing details of their plea bargains with the government.

Most of these defendants are involved in drug gangs, though lately a very small number come from terrorism cases. Some of these cooperating witnesses are among the most unsavory characters in America's courts multiple murderers and drug dealers but the public cannot learn whether their testimony against confederates won them drastically reduced prison sentences or even freedom.

In the nation's capital, which has had a serious problem with drug gangs murdering government witnesses, the secrecy has reached another level the use of secret dockets. For hundreds of such defendants over the past few years in this city, should someone acquire the actual case number for them and enter it in the U.S. District Court's computerized record system, the computer will falsely reply, "no such case" rather than acknowledging that it is a sealed case.
(snip/...)

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/0...
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 02:11 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Now we're getting somewhere.
You find those cases and start harvesting names, and you may unravel some of the shadow government and its secrets.
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Kber Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
5. Secret trials, domestic spying, journalists prosecuted for reporting
on this administration's misdeeds.

I am afraid to ask what's next.

Oh yeah - stolen elections and tax payer funded propaganda disguised as news.

We are living in the Soviet Union.
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Thor_MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 11:18 AM
Response to Original message
6. 2008 Dem Candidate needs to run on transparency and repeal of * executive
orders that gutted post-Watergate era legislation that opens presidential papers after 20 years. Jan 2009 could lay open both the Reagan and GHW Bush presidencies. At which point, GW Bush should be tried on conspiracy to cover up the crimes of his father and idol.
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WannaJumpMyScooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
7. where is Congress on this one?
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Clara T Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 10:38 PM
Response to Original message
8. Thousands of Federal Cases Kept Secret
Thousands of Federal Cases Kept Secret
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN and JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writers Sun Mar 5, 6:50 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Despite the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of public trials, nearly all records are being kept secret for more than 5,000 defendants who completed their journey through the federal courts over the last three years. Instances of such secrecy more than doubled from 2003 to 2005.

An Associated Press investigation found, and court observers agree, that most of these defendants are cooperating government witnesses, but the secrecy surrounding their records prevents the public from knowing details of their plea bargains with the government.

Most of these defendants are involved in drug gangs, though lately a very small number come from terrorism cases. Some of these cooperating witnesses are among the most unsavory characters in America's courts multiple murderers and drug dealers but the public cannot learn whether their testimony against confederates won them drastically reduced prison sentences or even freedom.

In the nation's capital, which has had a serious problem with drug gangs murdering government witnesses, the secrecy has reached another level the use of secret dockets. For hundreds of such defendants over the past few years in this city, should someone acquire the actual case number for them and enter it in the U.S. District Court's computerized record system, the computer will falsely reply, "no such case" rather than acknowledging that it is a sealed case.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060305/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/s...
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Hekate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 02:30 AM
Response to Original message
9. Kick
:kick:

Hekate
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hang a left Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 03:18 AM
Response to Original message
10. If it wasn't for this bout of insomnia....I may have never seen this.
And it won't let me nominate it because it was started yesterday. Interesting article.

snip>

An Associated Press investigation found, and court observers agree, that most of these defendants are cooperating government witnesses,

I am suspecting that most in this context means at least 51%. As much as 49% of the case records are being kept secret....because......?

Anyone have an idea?
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