Ooops! Sealed Court Info Was Accessible in Ala.

U.S. Atty. Leura Canary/doj photo
By Allan Lengel


Alabama U.S. Attorney Leura Canary was “appalled” to find out an error allowed the public access to sealed confidential information filed by federal prosecutors on PACER, the online federal court records system, according to The Smoking Gun website. The system is accessed by defense attorneys,  reporters, investigators, researches and government officials.

TSG website reported that in the past nine months 40 separate sealed court applications were mistakenly made public in the Middle District of Alabama, which is based in Montgomery, Ala. The applications were made by ten prosecutors and included requests to install hidden surveillance cameras, examine Facebook records, obtain credit information on certain individuals, procure telephone records, and attach devices on phone lines to track incoming and outgoing calls, TSG reported.

TSG reported that one of its own reporters  discovered the breach and notified the Justice Department and the court in the Middle District of Alabama.  The matter was quickly rectified.

TSG reported that it was impossible to  determine if the sensitive information was viewed by other PACER users.

“Prosecutors were incredulous when told that law enforcement sensitive information was available on PACER. A Justice Department source termed it a ‘disastrous situation’ for which prosecutors were not responsible.” TSG wrote. “One government lawyer said they were “shocked” to discover that details from sealed court applications were essentially sitting in plain sight.”

In a statement  to TSG, the Middle District’s chief judge, Mark Fuller said:  “The confidential information has been sealed. I regret the error was not identified earlier and have adopted procedures to ensure that it will not occur in the future.”

Leave a Reply