Abner Mikva – retired federal judge, congressman, and White House counsel – urged lawyers at the American Bar Association convention to stop routinely filing court documents under seal, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
“You civil lawyers out there pay some attention: I don’t think that documents that are filed in the taxpayer-supported courthouse before a taxpayer-paid judge should be treated as private material unless there is some overwhelming public policy reason for doing so,” Mikva told the group at its Chicago meeting Thursday.
Mikva also criticized prosecutors “possibly tainting the jury pool with a big press conference announcing he has indicted so-and-so,” though he added that “I suppose prosecutors have First Amendment rights” protecting this speech.
Mikva served on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. from 1979 to 1994, including three years as chief judge. He also served for many years as a U.S. Representative from Illinois, and as White House counsel under President Clinton.