Secrets, lies and Snowden's email: why I was forced to shut down Lavabit

jim bell jamesdbell9 at
Tue May 20 19:57:46 PDT 2014

From: Juan <juan.g71 at>
On Tue, 20 May 2014 18:47:28 -0700 (PDT)

jim bell <jamesdbell9 at> wrote:

> Myself, I feel that no court can legitimately have any legal
> authority to order anyone to not speak about a legal proceeding.
> By definition, or by their own nature, or both, state courts
> are free to do whatever they please. I thought you might be
> familiar with the concept...? 
> Legitimacy? Whatever the government does is 'legitimate'
> because they say so.>

Well, in this case, it doesn't really have anything to do with what the State court can _do_.  Everything would happen BEFORE the State court has an opportunity to realize what's going on.   ("May you be in Heaven 30 minutes before the Devil knows you're dead").   The purpose is to use the State court as a 'prop':  The document(s) filed with that State court will, presumably, _also_be orders in a Federal Court case which a Federal Court Judge orders some private individual to 'not disclose', as if that Federal judge had authority to do so.  But, there is also a strong presumption that people have a right to file civil cases in state courts, and such documents filed in those State courts (generally)  become public-domain documents.  (Unless somebody specifically requests that those documents be, themselves, 'sealed', and the State court judge approves this.)
If a person who is the target of a "sealed" Federal filing chooses to file the documents in a State court case, I presume he remains entitled to file those documents freely in the State court case.  And, once so file, those documents will automatically become public-domain documents (at least until they are, themselves, sealed) and they can be published on the Internet.  It would be a very tricky question whether any party in this whole mix can be 'punished' for arranging this kind of dance.  I think a lawyer would have a good-faith belief that this is a proper exercise of law.  The ultimate goal, though, is to 'legally' publish documents that some Federal judge doesn't want to see published.  Since the mere publication of those documents destroys their secrecy, I think some lawyer should look into this, for the future.
        Jim Bell

>  It's easy to explain why:  The First Amendment, and the well-known
> prohibition against prior restraint, etc.  
> But the reality is that
> courts have developed the idea that "order" the "sealing" of
> documents.  I don't have an argument with an idea that a court can
> order an employee of government to not speak, precisely because he IS
> a government employee.  But Mr. Levison wasn't, and isn't a
> government employee. Would the procedure I described above 'get
> around' the law? Jim Bell
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