Attacks on secret informants spur federal courts to consider limiting PACER access–ABA Journal

The federal judiciary is considering blocking public online access to criminal court records on PACER to prevent inmates from learning information about confidential informants.

The idea is one of several under consideration as the U.S. Judicial Conference considers the impact of disclosure, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.
A recent survey (PDF) of federal judges, prosecutors, defenders and probation offices by the Federal Judicial Center found that nearly 700 witnesses and informants perceived as snitches had been threatened, wounded or killed over a three year period.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of Manhattan told the U.S. Judicial Conference’s criminal rules committee in April that PACER is part of the problem, according to the Wall Street Journal account. Though federal inmates don’t have PACER access, they often get information from others.

“Anonymous remote public access to PACER is a source of much of the information that gets into prisons about who is cooperating,” Kaplan said.

Read more…

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