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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Federal Court Tries to Stop Rat Revealing Website

From law.com: In response to a controversial Web site that exposes the identities of criminal defendants who have agreed to cooperate with authorities, the federal judges on the Eastern District of Pennsylvania bench have adopted a plan designed to make it impossible for any visitor to the court's Web site to discern whether a defendant is cooperating.

The new protocol, adopted last week, is a direct response to the Who's a Rat Web site, at www.whosarat.com, and will result in a modification of the docketing of all sentencing and plea documents in all criminal cases.

Chief U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said that under the current system, users of the court's Web site were able to discern which defendants had entered into agreements to cooperate either by viewing the plea agreement documents or simply noting that those documents were under seal.

The fact that such documents were sealed was a "red flag," Bartle said, that could lead to the exposure of the cooperating defendant.

To fix the problem, Bartle said, the court decided to restrict access to all sentencing and plea documents in all criminal cases -- regardless of whether the defendant is cooperating.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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