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Allowing defendants to plead guilty behind closed doors might protect them from retribution, she said. However, it's creating a completely secret system of justice," Dalglish said.
"That means that there are people sitting in prisons and there is no public track record of how they got there. that the men have cooperated with investigators and therefore deserved shorter prison sentences than called for under advisory sentencing guidelines.
"On very rare occasions, you will have a request by the government to file an indictment under seal and keep it under seal even after a defendant has been arrested," Chief U. Soto said attorneys routinely filed subpoena requests under seal so as not to tip off the other side. He said judges have wide discretion to determine what is in public view and what is not, especially when neither side challenges a ruling to keep information out of view.
Lawyers like to play their cards close to the vest until it is time to exchange witness lists, he said. Soto said two men claiming to be cousins of their client, Alfredo Garcia, contacted them and offered substantial payments to represent him -- but only if they agreed not to report it.
I find that appalling." Federal judges in Mobile said the vast majority of cases and documents remain open. It's such an exception." Soto represents Juan Perez-Oliveros in the meth case. Butler allowed her to detail her recommendation outside of the earshot of courtroom spectators.
The closed federal cases represent less than 1 percent of the 3,557 criminal cases filed since 1993. The clerk's office said five out of 22,970 since 1991 have been sealed. Police in January pulled over a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche that they testified was weaving on Interstate 10 and found 85 pounds of methamphetamines inside. Willie James Ellison, a law professor at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, said the danger of closed proceedings and sealed documents lies in the fact that the public cannot object to what it does not know about.
The justices heavily edited the publicly released version of the legal brief submitted to the high court, blanking out entire pages.
While sympathizing with the plight of prosecutors wanting to protect ongoing investigations, he said a citizen's constitutional rights are paramount.
Bellahouel, who had ties to two of the hijackers and whose student visa had expired.
But the federal court in Miami kept all details about Bellahouel's case secret -- including that it even existed.
Butler agreed to open the records, and the lawyers learned the men who had contacted them actually were an undercover FBI agent and a confidential informant.
Soto said he remains convinced that the entire effort was an entrapment attempt against him and his partner.