CA3: Govt agreed that SW materials could be released in terrorism case, but not plea agreement; no abuse of discretion in keeping plea papers sealed

In a terrorism case, the government agreed that search warrant materials could be unsealed, but resisted disclosure of plea agreements and plea related materials. They were presumptively open records at common law and the First Amendment, but the government made a sufficient showing to keep them under seal because of national security concerns. The district court’s order not unsealing was not an abuse of discretion. United States v. Thomas, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27079 (3d Cir. Sep. 21, 2018).

Defense counsel didn’t move to suppress a laptop that, in another case, he moved to suppress and the state dismissed. The appeals court doesn’t ascribe any meaning to the dismissal as being related. At the post-conviction hearing, defendant didn’t prove anything about the likelihood of success of the search. Moreover, he used part of the product of the search in his own case. The court finds no prejudice because of the strength of the evidence. Phillips v. State, 2018 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 716 (Sep. 21, 2018).* [The defense using part of the evidence from the search could have been a strategic move on defense counsel’s part. Just because you can move to suppress doesn’t mean that you should.]

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