Justice Department rule limits media disclosures
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Office of the Deputy Attorney General in late April issued a new guideline prohibiting disclosure of possible trial evidence to the news media by Justice Department employees.
The rule forbids disclosure of any possible evidence in civil or criminal cases, or of pictures, sound recordings or videotapes thereof, obtained or made by Justice Department employees in connection with a search or arrest warrant, without a court order or prior permission from a U.S. Attorney or the Assistant Attorney General.
Justice Department spokesman Carl Stern stated that the addition is intended to be a reminder for employees to follow already established court rules barring distribution of evidence before it has been introduced at trial.
Stern denied that recent leaks in the Unabomber case prompted the new policy. The rule was developed last year after two incidents in which evidence was leaked to and broadcast by the media, according to Stern. In the first incident, a television news organization aired pictures of a raided “marijuana factory” provided by DEA agents. In the second instance, a DEA agent displayed a car door with a secret panel used to smuggle drugs on a local television news program. (USMA 1-7.600 – Media Relations)