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Prison Legal News: December, 2003

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Volume 14, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Secret Court Docket Practice Exposed (p 1)

Secret Court Docket Practice Exposed

by David M. Reutter and Paul Wright

One of the founding principles of the United States judiciary system is the right of access by the public and press. In their infinite wisdom, the authors of the Bill of Rights placed that principle within the First Amendment. That principle, however, has become yet another casualty in the war on crime and terror. Aside from the Miami Business Daily, who first broke this story, the corporate and legal media have largely ignored the use of secret court dockets by the judiciary. Most alarmingly, these secret court dockets are being used to hide civil rights lawsuits, criminal drug cases, and even divorce proceedings by wealthy litigants.

Hiding a Counter-Insurgency Scandal

Attorneys representing Colombian drug kingpin Fabio Ochoa, 46, a former member of the Medellin drug cartel, have asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to cease the practice of maintaining dual secret dockets in the Southern District of Florida. Ochoa, represented by Miami attorneys Roy Black and G. Richard Strafer, argues in his brief to the 11th Circuit that Ochoa has been victimized by an improper collaboration between prosecutors and the judiciary, which cut him off from information he needed to defend himself ...