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Sealed Criminal Document Procedures

The following procedures apply to all sealed criminal documents.

Release of Sealed Information

If you want permission to release sealed information or to obtain copies of sealed documents, you must make a written request either in the Motion to Seal (and specify who may have copies) or by a separate motion such as Motion for Miscellaneous Relief.

Even if you represent the party who filed the sealed document, you must have a court order to obtain a copy from the Clerk’s Office. For example, if the U.S. Attorney’s Office wants a certified copy of a sealed indictment, either the order sealing the indictment or a separate order must give the Clerk’s Office permission to provide the U.S. Attorney's Office with a copy.

Unsealed Indictments

When a sealed indictment is filed, all documents in the case are sealed. When the indictment is unsealed, all the documents in the case are unsealed unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge.

Therefore, if the government moves to unseal an indictment but wants certain other documents in the case to remain sealed, counsel must file a motion to unseal and counsel must specify the document(s) that are to remain under seal.

In-Court Proceedings

When scheduling a proceeding in court, you must advise chambers if the matter will be sealed. If you fail to do so, the proceeding will appear on the public calendar with the case number, case title, and type of proceeding.

However, please be specific about what you want sealed. If it is just the testimony of one witness, specify “only the testimony of John Doe.” If you want any documents produced at the hearing or as a result of the hearing to be sealed (i.e., exhibits, the criminal memo, sentencing order, etc.), you must specify what documents from the hearing you would like to be sealed. It is not sufficient to say “all related documents.”

When in doubt, talk with the courtroom deputy before the proceeding.