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Bogus electronic grand jury subpeonas; audio recordings of trials

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Photo from website of U.S. District Court (W.D. Mi.).

Here are two important items from the United States Courts website:

  • The federal courts website reports instances of bogus grand jury subpoenas being sent to some people by e-mail. The federal courts do not deliver such subpoenas by e-mail, and the bogus e-mails may include harmful links. I do not know how old this information is, but it underlines the importance of being vigilant of the many e-mail frauds out there, and the many viruses that invade computers by opening e-mailed attachments from unreliable sources.
  • Lawyers, judges, and witnesses have less anonymity in the courtroom than ever. Some courtrooms videotape trial proceedings. Audiotaped proceedings are ubiquitous (but not in such courts as the Virginia state-level district courts, which requires parties to hire their own court reporter to have a certified record of the district court proceedings). In some federal trial and bankruptcy courts, audiotaped proceedings can be obtained online from PACER.

We are now in a world where almost nothing we say or do outside of our home is private. Cameras are ubiquitous in retail establishments, at highway overpasses, at the national mall, and the privacy-loss list goes on. It all makes it sound quaint that I opted against being videotaped for my first-year law school moot court competition in 1987 merely because none of the parties had opted for videotaping in advance of the competition date. Now, it is always showtime when I leave my home, and lawyers do not have a privacy argument to stand on when in the courtroom; lawyers who do not want such scrutiny are free to negotiate contracts, arrange trusts and estates, draft laws, and do other non-litigation work. Jon Katz.