A 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday that controversial secret evidence kept out of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver’s trial can become public if the judge believes it is relevant to sentencing.
Silver and another individual named in the secret materials — known as Sealed Party A — have been fighting U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni’s post-trial ruling last month that they should become public.
The three-judge panel dismissed Silver’s appeal of Caproni’s ruling, but the judges said the unnamed individual, represented by Washington lawyer Abbe David Lowell, has a right to have their privacy claim heard on the merits and to keep the materials sealed in the meantime.
The judges qualified that ruling, however, in reaction to an argument from prosecutors, who said the secret materials are relevant to Silver’s sentencing, scheduled on April 13, and that if they are kept under seal part of the sentencing will have to be secret.
The appeals panel said the stay on releasing the materials was “subject … to a district court determination that the transcripts and documents at issue are relevant to sentencing, whereupon the stay is automatically dissolved without need for further action by this court.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office had no immediate comment. Lowell and lawyers for Silver could not immediately be reached for comment.
Although the identity of Sealed Party A is unknown — and Caproni plans to keep the name redacted even if the materials are released — Lowell in one unsealed court filing repeatedly referred to his publicity-shy client with female pronouns.
“Sealed Party A objects to the purposeful disclosure of her private information that was never revealed at trial to the public and the press ..., who appear to be waiting for her private information with bated breath,” the lawyer wrote.