Schock, prosecutors agree documents filed under seal should stay that way

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- A disgraced Illinois congressman and the federal prosecutors who want to send him to prison are in agreement on one thing: the public shouldn't see some of what is in his file.

Schock's lawyers and federal prosecutors are in agreement that items filed under seal about former Peoria congressman Aaron Schock - some of which may be meaningless but any of which could be prejudicial to his case, his attorney say - should stay that way. Both sides are also now asking a judge to deny media requests for the material.

Ever since Schock's Downton Abbey decor was outed on Capitol Hill, the Peoria Republican has been on the defensive.

After he resigned from office two years ago, the grand jury looking into his congressional and campaign spending did so secretly, as all grand juries operate. But once Schock was indicted last year on corruption counts that could send him to prison for more than 20 years, the files should have become public.

Many of them have been filed under seal, protected from public view.

"I don't recall seeing this many sealed documents in a case like this," said former Assistant U.S. Attorney and ABC 7 legal analyst, Gil Soffer. He said that's unusual.

In January, web publication Politico asked the court to unseal the secret Schock records. Monday night in Springfield, both Schock's and U.S. attorneys have filed responses urging Judge Colin Bruce to deny the request.

Schock's attorneys say that, "excerpts from grand jury testimony and a handful of email messages and records (plucked from among the hundreds of thousands of records the government has obtained), which the government has selectively offered to portray Mr. Schock in a false and misleading light."

They asked that the records that are sealed remain sealed.

The government agrees, acknowledging that, "the public has a qualified right of access to criminal proceedings," but stating that, "the limited number of sealed filings in the criminal case involve a witness list applicable to a bond condition and pleadings relating to issues that have been resolved by the parties and are therefore moot."

"Judges aren't at liberty to allow every document to be filed under seal. There is a presumption of transparency in our system. So the court would likely push back, if there were too many documents filed under seal that shouldn't have been filed under seal," Soffer said.

On the chance that Judge Bruce decides records should be made public with sensitive areas blacked out, prosecutors said the government is able to help with appropriate redactions. One factor that may weigh into the open records matter is that Bruce is new to the case. He was assigned the case last month by Chief Judge James Shadid after the original judge recused herself due to a possible appearance of conflict.

Click here to read the government's filing.

Click here to read Schock's filing.
Related topics:
springfieldcourti team
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.