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In secret case, government agrees to disclosures

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  1. Court Access
Attorneys representing the federal government in a trial that was held in complete secrecy have apparently agreed to the release…

Attorneys representing the federal government in a trial that was held in complete secrecy have apparently agreed to the release of some information in the case.

The civil lawsuit involves the prison killing of Jewish Defense League figure Earl Krugel. U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ordered reporters and the public out of the courtroom, conducting the whole trial behind closed doors in an attempt to protect Bureau of Prisons (BOP) strategies for identifying gang members. Many documents, including the court’s opinion, were sealed.

The Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked the court to unseal documents and trial transcripts on Aug. 4, arguing that “the holding of a secret trial and the sealing of court records concerning substantive court rulings is almost impossible to justify.”

After asking the court for more time to respond to the media groups’ request for access – a request the court denied – government attorneys responded Thursday. They asked the court to keep just three types of information sealed: the identities of confidential informants; a BOP policy which identifies techniques used to identify prison gangs; and a BOP manual on identifying gang symbols and terminology. “Upon further review,” they added, the government’s brief regarding the sealing portions of the trial transcript “should be unsealed so that the News Organizations can review it.”

Krugel’s widow, Lola Krugel, is expected to file a response by Monday to the media groups’ request.