IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
June 13, 2012
LISA CRESS, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF, AND AS GUARDIAN FOR MINOR K.C. AND AS GUARDIAN FOR MINOR C.C., AND DANIEL LOMBARDI, PLAINTIFFS/COUNTER-DEFENDANTS,
VENTNOR CITY, ATLANTIC COUNTY, THEODORE BERGMAN, DOUGLAS BIAGI, MICHAEL MILLER, SCHALLUS, JOHN DOE #1-10(MASKED MEN IN BLACK), EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, JAMES DONALDSON, JOSEPH BONSALL, JAY WOODS, JASON RZEMYK, JAMES SHARKEY, SEAN CLANCEY, FRANK CULMONE, FRANCISCO CORREA, DAVE DRUDING, STEVEN SWANKOSKI, AND TIM COLELLA, DEFENDANTS/CROSS-CLAIMANTS/CROSS-DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
In this case involving allegations of constitutional violations by defendant police officers in connection with the execution of a "no-knock" search warrant executed at night upon plaintiffs at their home, presently before the Court is the motion of plaintiffs to unseal the identities and deposition testimony of two confidential informants, who purportedly provided the probable cause for the search warrant; and
Previously, the Court having granted plaintiffs' request to take the depositions of the two confidential informants; and
Plaintiffs having deposed the confidential informants, and that testimony, along with their identities, currently remains under seal; and
Plaintiffs now requesting that the confidential informants' identities and the transcripts of their depositions be unsealed; and
Defendants having opposed plaintiffs' motion; and The Court having reviewed the deposition transcripts; and The Court recognizing that "unwarranted disclosure of government informers poses a very real threat to the continued vitality of the principle" of the informer's privilege, Cashen v. Spann, 334 A.2d 8, 15 (N.J. 1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 829 (1975); but
The Court also recognizing that where the disclosure of a confidential informant's identity is "is essential to a fair determination of a cause, the privilege must give way," Roviaro v. United States, 353 U.S. 53, 61 (1957); and
The Court having previously balanced the competing interests, as set forth in Cashen, when allowing plaintiffs to take the depositions of the confidential informants; and
The Court again considering those interests with regard to plaintiffs' current request to unseal the identities of the confidential informants and the content of their deposition testimony in order to support their claims;
IT IS HEREBY on this 13th day of June, 2012 ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion to unseal [133, 134] is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, as follows:
1. The deposition transcripts of the two confidential informants shall be unsealed, except that
a. The names and any other identifying information of the two
informants shall be redacted and remain under seal,*fn1
b. The testimony of CI2 regarding prior cooperation with law enforcement unrelated to this case shall be redacted and remain under seal.
2. The determination of whether the confidential informants' identities will remain sealed for purposes of trial will be determined in pretrial hearings should the case proceed to trial.
At Camden, New Jersey
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.