Is There a First Amendment Right of Access to Material Witness Proceedings?

Yesterday, in United States v. Brice, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit turned away a convicted defendant’s effort to unseal the records of material witness proceedings that were referred to during his sentencing hearing. ¬†Even assuming there was a “qualified” First Amendment right of access to material witness proceedings the Court held that any such right was outweighed by countervailing interests. As Judge Kavanaugh explained in an opinion for the court, “the public was not entitled to the records here,
which contained ‘substantial amounts of material of an especially personal and private nature relating to the medical, educational, and mental health progress’ of the victims.” BLT has more here.

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