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Revised Procedures for Handling Highly Sensitive Documents

Monday, April 22, 2024

In January 2021, due to widespread breaches of both private sector and government computer systems, the Court adopted new security procedures to protect Highly Sensitive Documents (HSDs) that, if improperly disclosed, could cause harm to the United States, the Federal Judiciary, litigants, or others. Parties are required to file HSDs in paper form (or, if digital media, on a secure electronic device such as an encrypted USB drive). These documents are maintained in the Clerk’s Office in a secure paper filing system or a secure independent electronic storage system.

The Court has today, adopted General Order 24-04, revising the definition of HSDs and describing the process for the handling thereof.  Note that most sealed documents do not meet the definition of HSD. The following types of sealed documents typically will not qualify as HSDs: (1) presentence and pretrial release reports; (2) pleadings related to cooperation in criminal cases; (3) Social Security records; (4) administrative immigration records; and (5) applications for search warrants or interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications under 18 U.S.C. § 2518, and applications for pen registers, trap, and trace devices. These sealed documents will continue to be subject to the Court’s usual procedures for handling sealed matters as described in LR 5.6 and LCrR 49.4.