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Federal cases shrouded in secrecy

Michael J. Sniffen and John Solomon of the Associated Press used court records to show that despite the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of public trials, nearly all records are being kept secret for more than 5,000 defendants who completed their journey through the federal courts over the past three years. The investigation found that most of these defendants are cooperating government witnesses, but the secrecy surrounding their records prevents the public from knowing details of their plea bargains with the government. "Most of these defendants are involved in drug gangs, though lately a very small number come from terrorism cases." Some of these cooperating witnesses include multiple murderers and drug dealers but the public cannot learn whether their testimony won them drastically reduced prison sentences or even freedom.

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