On the Publication of Sealed Documents

I do not have any of the discovery materials for any of the parties in the Virginia Walker v. Kimberlin, et al. civil suit. I am not a party to the suit, but I was in the courtroom when Judge Potter ordered that the materials be kept confidential, for the eyes of counsel and the judge only. While that order does not apply to me, I believe that I should honor it. I would not publish any of that information if I had it. I blog on this matter as an independent reporter. I’m not a employee or agent of either Aaron Walker or his lawyer. If I were, I would lose the protection that my confidential sources and I enjoy under Maryland’s Reporter’s Shield Law.

Information from the material given to TDPK by Aaron Walker has been selectively leaked in violation of the judge’s order. I don’t see how that can be anything other than a serious error. Violating the judge’s instruction will likely come back to haunt TDPK during the sanctions portion of the hearing on 4 December.

Furthermore, the leaked material actually helps make Aaron Walker’s case. IANAL, so I’ll let commenter BigSkyBob explain how it supports Mr. and Mrs. Walker. If I were on a jury and that were all the evidence I saw, the only question in my mind would be how large the judgment against their former employer should be.

11 thoughts on “On the Publication of Sealed Documents

  1. I’ve seen some go through some pretty nifty mental/verbal gymnastics to justify the printing of the Arron Walker discovery. Isn’t the fact that they have to explain why it is ok to print the discovery that they are showing what in legal circles is called, “consciousness of guilt?”

    It’s a shame that one side complains about not wanting their discovery on the net, then turns around and does exactly that with the other sides discovery. That they did it against Juidges orders that were put in place BECAUSE of that complaint makes it even worse.

    I don’t know what, if anything, Judge Potter can do about it now but I’d like to see him do something. I am not talking about to TDPK either, but to those that actively, maliciously, posted to the web.

    • While TDPK has violated Judge Potter’s order, the people receiving the documents have a First Amendment right to publish them. However, the fact that they are not breaking the law does not justify their behavior. Not everything that is legal is moral. Not everything that is legal is wise.

      For example, if someone has been blogging about a lawsuit, it will be difficult for that person to convince a judge that he did not have knowledge of the suit when default judgment time rolls around.

      • In other words, “You have to take the good with the bad with the First Amendment.” Doesn’t mean we have to like it though.

      • “the people receiving the documents have a First Amendment right to publish them”

        Not necessarily. If they knew the documents were subject to an order to seal and published them in violation of that order they could still be in trouble. Basically, the publishers of the information may be acting as agents of TDPK and liability would attach through him.

  2. What exactly has been released? What I saw from DPBK’s tweets was written by AW to his employer warning them about the DPBK situation. Did I miss something?

    • Those emails were provided to TDPK as a part of discovery. The only other way I know of to have acquired them in manually redacted form would be to have made copies in Dan Backer’s office or the Clerk of the Court’s office. If that’s the case, then docs were either provided in defiance of Judge Potter’s order or stolen.

      The only way to have acquired an unredacted copies would have been to hack Aaron Walker’s computer or to have made copies in Dan Backer’s office. Either way, that would be some form of theft.

    • I haven’t read all of it because I haven’t downloaded it, but according to Cabin Boy Bill Schmaldfeldt (CBBS) he released over 300 pages of emails.
      FMNR was releasing portions of some emails…not sure what he has done in the last couple days.

  3. TDPK is a Fed probationer/parolee, so if he has leaked/released sealed court documents–then he is in valation of his probation/parole.

    • TDPK was released in 2001. He is long past his supervised release period and is free and clear. No probation. No parole.

      • TDPK was convicted before the current sentencing law was in effect. Unless he has been pardoned, his parole should run (perhaps without supervision) until the end of his sentence in 2030.

        • oh ho! I forgot were I read that he was no longer on any sort of supervision. I think it was An Ex-Cons View back in June.

          I wonder why the Peace Order from Norton didn’t work as a violation.

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