Federal judges often seal cases that come before them for questionable reasons and allow case files to remain secret from public scrutiny long after the reasons for secrecy have lapsed, says a study by the Federal Judicial Center reported by McClatchy Newspapers.
“There was one (criminal) case sealed,” the report noted, “because the defendant had a high profile. According to the judge, ‘It seemed a good idea at the time.’ A person of influence failed to respect the authority of an officer on federal land.” — A greater percentage of criminal cases were sealed than civil cases. Analysts found 1,077 of 66,458 criminal cases sealed. Of these, 241 were sealed because they involved informants and 284 because authorities didn’t want to tip off defendants before they’d been arrested. Protecting juvenile defendants’ identities figured in the sealing of 180 cases.