Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Filing Documents

First, I will discuss the filing process up until this past fall: Previously, any document that I wanted to file had to be delivered to the CSO. It did not matter if the document was a simple change of address or a document with protected or classified information. The CSO tendered the document to my opposing attorney at the DOJ and usually within hours after the filing, the DOJ attorney would call and, more often than not, tell me that the document was cleared for filing on the public record. On one or two occasions I received a call from the DOJ telling me that a certain name or piece of information should be redacted (blacked out) and then filed. On at least one occasion I received a call from the DOJ attorney asking me if certain information had been publicly cleared in the past and when I said yes and pointed out the document I was told to go ahead and file it publicly.

In the fall the “Protective Order” was changed somewhat and we are now allowed to file documents directly with the court when we know the document does not contain any protected or classified information. However, documents that we believe potentially contain protected or classified information still must be filed directly with the CSO. The CSO is then required to work with the various agencies to come up with a redacted version of the document for public filing or notify us if there is just too much in the document that is classified or protected and then we are required to file a second notice with the Court stating that the document has not been cleared for public filing.

Since the new Protective Order has been entered the only document that I received approval for filing on the public record was my Petition for Certiorari that I filed with the Supreme Court. Several documents that I filed these past few months with the CSO (because I happened to complete them while at the Secret place) had no protected or classified information within them and I notified the CSO of that fact at the time I filed the documents. Despite that notification, they have still not been cleared for public filing. Other documents I have filed with the CSO contain minimal classified information but those too have not been redacted and then made available for public filing.

A few weeks ago, I started to notice that what went in never came out and I became concerned that none of my filings are making it onto the public record. It is not that the CSO is saying that the documents cannot be filed on the public record. The documents are just being ignored, as though they do not exist. I contacted my opposing counsel and I was told that if I really wanted these filing made available (!) for the public record they could request that the various agencies review them, but that will take time. Yikes… if I really want them on the public record the DOJ will see what they can do! I understand that it might take some time to review all of these documents but apparently clearing documents for public filing is not even on the radar anymore… unless you beg.

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