United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant's Application to File Ex
Parte Opposed Motion to Continue Jury Trial Under Seal
[Doc. No. 81]. The government has responded [Doc. No. 82] and
Defendant has replied [Doc. No. 83]. The matter is fully
briefed and at issue.
was indicted in June 2018 on a charge of conspiracy to commit
child sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1591(a)(1), (a)(2), (b)(2), and (c), and a charge of child
sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§
1591(a)(1), (b)(2), and (c), § 1594(a), and 18 U.S.C.
§ 2. The Court granted the government's motion to
designate this matter as a case “of special public
importance” pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3509(j) and
noted that “designation of the case as being of special
public importance will require the Court to consider the
interests of the child witnesses in a speedy resolution of
this matter in determinations that might result in
delay.” Order [Doc. No. 44]. On November 13, 2018, a
Superseding Indictment [Doc. No. 64] was returned adding an
additional child victim.
August 29, 2018, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's
Unopposed Application for Psychiatric Evaluation [Doc. No.
52]. The court found reasonable cause to believe Defendant
was suffering from a mental disease or defect that rendered
him mentally incompetent to the extent that he was unable to
assist properly in his defense and, therefore, ordered
Defendant “committed to the custody of the Attorney
General so that a psychiatric examination of Defendant could
be conducted to determine his competency.” Order [Doc.
No. 55] at 1-2. Pursuant to the Court's Order, Defendant
was committed to the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac,
Washington, on October 4, 2018, and the Bureau of Prisons
requested the thirty (30) day evaluation period to begin on
that day. Letter from Bureau of Prisons, October 15, 2018,
[Doc. No. 60].
Court received the psychiatric evaluation [Doc. No. 68] on
December 5, 2018. On March 15, 2019, the Court held a
competency hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §4247(d). At
the hearing, Defendant, through counsel, stipulated that he
is competent to stand trial pursuant to the findings in the
psychiatric examination; the government agreed. Order [Doc.
No. 78] at 2. Based on the governing statute, the report, and
having observed Defendant during the hearing, the Court
accepted the parties' stipulation and determined that
Defendant is competent to stand trial. Id. at 2.
was arraigned on the Superseding Indictment on March 29,
2019. Minute Entry [Doc. No. 80]. On April 2, 2019, counsel
for Defendant contacted counsel for the government to inquire
if the government would oppose a motion to continue the trial
sixty to ninety (90) days. Response at 3. Counsel for the
government informed counsel for Defendant that the motion
would be opposed, and Defendant then filed the instant
Application requesting leave to file under seal an ex
parte opposed motion to continue the jury trial pursuant
to LCrR 12.2.
12.1(f)(5)(D) provides that if a motion for continuance
“would require divulging trial strategy or information
of a highly personal nature, including medical data, the
movant may seek leave to file the motion under seal”
and “[i]f trial strategy would be revealed, the motion
and request for leave may be presented ex
parte.” Pursuant to LCrR 12.2, “[a]ny party
requesting that any pleading, document, or other matter be
filed under seal (such as ex parte . . .) shall file an
application and proposed order with the assigned
government objects to Defendant's Application on the
grounds that: (1) Defendant failed to provide a reason for
filing his motion for continuance under seal or ex
parte; (2) “any continuance would implicate child
victim rights and the public's right to a speedy
trial”; and, (3) Defendant's Application does not
meet the standards applied under the common law right of
access or the First Amendment for sealing court documents.
Response at 4-5, 6. The government requests that if the Court
is inclined to grant relief, that the Court authorize only
“redactions of sensitive information, as opposed to the
wholesale sealing of the motion.” Response at 2.
Defendant did not state in the Application the justification
for his request to file ex parte and under seal, he
does so in his Reply. Defendant asserts that his motion for
continuance will necessarily include defense trial strategy
and that pursuant to LCrR 12.1(f)(5)(D) the motion may be
presented ex parte. Reply at 2, 3. Defendant also
limits his request “to file ex parte under
seal the paragraphs under 12.1(f) that would divulge trial
strategy.” Reply at 4.
parties have expressed that limited redaction would be
acceptable. Response at 2, 7-8; Reply at 3. Therefore, there
is no need for the Court to address the government's
other objections to the ex parte, sealed filing of
Defendant's motion to continue. The Court will permit
Defendant to file a redacted motion in the case record, and
file an unredacted version of the motion, under seal and
ex parte, which shall include those portions of his
motion to continue that would divulge trial strategy.
reasons state above, Defendant's Application to file
Defendant's Ex Parte Opposed Motion to Continue
Jury Trial Under Seal [Doc. No. ...