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United States v. Schulte

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  1. Court Access

The Reporters Committee and 27 Media Organization filed an amicus brief in the Second Circuit in United States v. Schulte. The case concerns public access to certain search warrants and search warrant affidavits in the criminal prosecution of Joshua Schulte, a former CIA employee who is accused of illegally accessing and transmitting classified information belonging to the CIA in connection to the “Vault 7” leaks, among other charges. The district court denied Schulte’s motion asking it to allow him to make public the search warrant materials, which were covered by a protective order, holding that because Schulte had originally agreed to the protective order, he was not “free to walk away” from that agreement.  The amicus brief argues that that the search warrant materials are judicial records to which a strong common law and First Amendment right of access applies.  It argues that, as a result, regardless of whether Schulte agreed to closure of court records, the district court was obligated to consider the public’s right of access to the search warrant materials when ruling on Schulte’s motion, and the district court erred in failing to do so.  In addition, the amicus brief argues that, in determining whether the search warrant materials should be made public, the district court must consider the strong public interest in the subject matter of the underlying criminal case.