Protective Order Battle Could Undermine Trump's Effective Defense

Bloomberg Law

Authored Article


A battle is heating up in the Jan. 6 criminal case against former President Donald Trump that, while seemingly technical, will likely have a significant impact on the defendant’s ability to mount a defense. It may well serve as a bellwether for how the court will resolve future similar procedural disputes.

On Aug. 4, the government filed a motion asking the court to enter a “protective order” governing how the parties—particularly the defendant—may disclose and use discovery materials the government must turn over to the defendant. Discovery materials broadly include records obtained through grand jury proceedings, testimony of witnesses before the grand jury, reports of witness interviews, and search warrants and other court orders requiring the production of various records obtained during the investigation.

These items can often contain personal information of witnesses or information that could compromise aspects of the government’s investigation that aren’t yet required to be disclosed. So it’s common in criminal cases for the court to enter an order—a protective order—limiting the defendant’s use of discovery materials or disclosure to others except as necessary to defend the case.

Republished with permission. The complete article, "Protective Order Battle Could Undermine Trump's Effective Defense" was published by Bloomberg Law on August 9, 2023.