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Mon Sep 9, 2019, 06:55 PM

U.S. congressional panel to probe court secrecy

Source: Reuters


U.S. congressional panel to probe court secrecy

Dan Levine, Lisa Girion

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee will hear testimony this month about a lack of transparency in the federal courts, with a focus on judges who routinely keep important evidence secret at the public’s expense.

The hearing comes after a June 25 Reuters investigation (Read the Special Report here ) detailed how judges have allowed the makers of dozens of consumer products to file under seal in their courts information that is pertinent to public health and safety. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been killed or seriously injured by allegedly defective products -- drugs, cars, medical devices and other products -- while evidence that could have alerted consumers and regulators to potential danger remained hidden by the courts.

Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told Reuters in an interview Monday that court secrecy is a “life and death” issue, and that it causes people to lose confidence in the justice system.

It is rare for any party in a lawsuit to push for transparency. Corporations are loath to expose embarrassing internal communications, plaintiffs’ lawyers don’t want to delay resolution for their clients, and judges want to keep cases moving on a crowded docket.


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-courts-secrecy-congress/u-s-congressional-panel-to-probe-court-secrecy-idUSKCN1VU297

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