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United States v. Smith

March 28, 1986

UNITED STATES
v.
WILLIAM T. SMITH, JR. AND ALAN R. STONEMAN, JOHN DOE, APPELLANT



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Criminal nos. 84-00156-04 and 84-00156-05)

Author: Sloviter

Opinion OF THE COURT

Before: ADAMS, SLOVITER and MANSMANN, Circuit Judges

SLOVITER, Circuit Judge.

I.

Q BACKGROUND

Appellant John Doe, a defense witness in the federal criminal trial of William T. Smith and Alan r. Stoneman on charges arising out of the bribery of a high Pennsylvania official, appeals in an effort to prevent disclosure of the transcript of a sidebar conference containing a question to him that was proffered by the prosecution. The United States Attorney sought to impeach Doe during his cross-examination by asking him whether he had been notified that he is a target of the same criminal investigation. App. at 7. The government represented that Doe had received such a target letter, and that is not disputed. Both defendants objected to the question. The district judge stated:

THE COURT: I don't see what it proves, frankly. I do not see what it proves, so I'm going to sustain the objection of the defense.

App. at 8.

Later that day, the defendants requested in a second sidebar conference that the transcript of the sidebar conference be sealed, and the court so ordered. App. at 9-10. This was followed by a third sidebar conference to discuss further the mechanics of the sealing order and notification of the media. App. at 11-14.

The following morning the district judge held an in chambers conference. He told counsel he was reconsidering the oral sealing orders entered the preceding day. After giving all parties the opportunity to be heard, the court entered a written order vacating the order sealing the transcripts. App. at 119-120. The court entered another order releasing the transcripts, which it stayed for 10 days to allow interested parties to appeal. Defendants Smith and Stoneman and the witness Doe each filed Notices of Appeal. Smith and Stoneman, who were later convicted in the criminal case, withdrew their appeals from this order. On Doe's motion, the stay was extended by this court.

Doe's appeal is properly before us. An order denying access to portions of a trial record is appealable as a final order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1291. See United States v. Criden, 648 F.2d 814 (3d Cir. 1981) (hereafter Criden I). A fortiori, an order granting such access is similarly appealable.

II.

SCOPE OF ...


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