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Criminal Case File Exceptions

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Judicial Conference- March 2002

Criminal Case Files Pilot Program. [T]he policy on privacy and public access to electronic case files, adopted by the Conference in September 2001, prohibits remote public electronic access to criminal case file documents, with the proviso that the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management reexamine the prohibition within two years (JCUS-SEP/OCT 01, pp. 48-50). On recommendation of the Committee, the Conference approved creation of a pilot program to allow selected courts to provide remote public electronic access to criminal case file documents. The authority to select the participating courts was delegated to the Committee. The Federal Judicial Center has agreed to study the participating courts within the two-year time frame and inform the Committee of its findings.

“High-Profile” Criminal Cases. The Committee also recommended a modification to the criminal case files provision of the privacy policy to allow remote public electronic access to files in “high-profile” criminal cases where requests for documents impose extraordinary demands on a court’s resources. Consent of the parties would be required as well as a finding by the trial judge or presiding judge of the appellate panel that such access is warranted under the circumstances. In January 2002, the Executive Committee approved such an exception on an interim basis, pending consideration by the Conference, to accommodate a recent high-profile case filed in the Eastern District of Virginia. At this session, the Conference approved the Committee’s recommendation to allow such exceptions on a permanent basis.

Pages 10-11.