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Judges' Guide to Keeping Secrets

No doubt, federal judges have enough to think about without having to worry about how to keep secrets from the public. Now, a new "pocket guide" simplifies secrecy for judges, lifting the veil on how to keep the lid on government secrets in the courtroom. Published by the Federal Judicial Center, the how-to handbook bears the non-nutshell title, Keeping Government Secrets: A Pocket Guide for Judges on the State-Secrets Privilege, the Classified Information Procedures Act, and Court Security Officers.

In the guide's preface, FJC Director Barbara Jacobs Rothstein explains its purpose:

Most federal judges come into contact with classified information infrequently, if at all, but when they do, they are faced with the dilemma of how to protect government secrets in the context of an otherwise public proceeding.

This pocket guide is designed to familiarize federal judges with statutes and procedures established to help public courts protect government secrets when courts are called upon to do so. The guide provides information about the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), information security officers, and secure storage facilities.

I hope you will find this guide useful in meeting the challenge of protecting government secrets in a public forum.

In just 19 pages plus appendices, the guide uncovers the ABCs of classified information and state secrets and includes sections on protective orders, withholding discovery, ex parte presentations and limits on evidence at trial. While it is for the executive branch to decide what information is classified, the guide concludes, it is for the judiciary "to protect the rights of parties in civil and criminal cases while keeping government secrets."

[Hat tip to beSpacific.]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 16, 2008 at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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