Handling Cooperator Information
United States District Court of Kansas
New Local Rule CR49.6.1 – Cooperator Information – Effective March 17, 2019
When defendants potentially or actually cooperate with the government, such cooperation may be disclosed in a variety of documents and pleadings, including but not limited to: plea agreements, sentencing memoranda, cooperation agreements, motions for downward departure, and motions to reduce sentence. For the protection and safety of defendants who potentially or actually cooperate with the government, any and all pleadings or documents referencing, discussing or reflecting any such potential or actual cooperation (“cooperator information”) shall be treated as follows.
The clerk’s office will create a Restricted Document Folder in every felony criminal case as soon as practicable after case opening. In multi-defendant cases, a separate Restricted Document Folder will be created for each defendant. The docket entry and any documents the presiding judge orders filed in the Restricted Document Folder will be sealed and not reflected on the public docket sheet, nor will the docket sheet reflect any skipped numbers.
Any and all pleadings or documents containing cooperator information must be submitted by the prosecutor and the defendant to the presiding judge’s chambers email account, for judicial review and determination whether placement in the Restricted Document Folder is warranted. The presiding judge will respond to the prosecutor and defendant by email, thus notifying them of the judge’s decision to place, or not place the submitted document(s) in the Restricted Document Folder.
If the presiding judge determines the submitted document(s) should be placed in the Restricted Document Folder, the presiding judge shall forward the document(s) to the clerk’s office and will direct the clerk’s office to file such submitted document(s) in the Restricted Document Folder. If the presiding judge concludes the submitted document(s) should not be placed in the Restricted Document Folder, the document(s) will be returned by email to the prosecutor and defendant.
In the District of Kansas, a Restricted Document Folder is created in every felony criminal case, whether or not the defendant is cooperating with the government. Thus the presence of this Restricted Document Folder does not mean that this defendant has or will cooperate with the government.
Will the court provide training for this process?
Yes. Please review the training video available here. The video will open in YouTube.
I have a document that contains information about my client’s cooperation. What should I do?
Email the PDF document to the presiding judge’s chambers email account and request that the document be placed in the defendant’s Restricted Document Folder. You should identify the page and paragraph where the cooperation information appears. The judge will review the document and notify you of his/her decision. Do not file any document containing cooperation information in CM/ECF.
If the document is approved for placement in the folder, you will be notified by chambers and they will forward the document to the clerk’s office for processing. If the document is rejected, you will receive further instructions.
Where do I find the presiding judge’s chambers email address?
Click on this link and select the appropriate judge from the list.
Are there special instructions for plea agreements?
Yes. If your client’s plea agreement involved cooperation, you should submit two separate documents to the court prior to the change of plea hearing. The bulk of the agreement should be included in a standard plea agreement document. Any information regarding cooperation should be separated into an addendum that contains only the cooperation information. The documents will be reviewed by the court prior to the hearing. After conducting the plea hearing, the judge will have the clerk’s office place the addendum in the Restricted Document Folder. The standard plea agreement document will be filed on the docket as normal.
Will I be able to see my client’s Restricted Document Folder on the docket sheet?
Yes. Counsel of record for the United States and for each specific defendant will have access to a defendant’s folder. You may review sample Restricted Document Folders here: Docket Sheet Examples.
When you run a docket sheet for the case from CM/ECF, the folder will always appear as docket entry 1 on the report.
***IMPORTANT*** If you need to provide a copy of the docket report to your client, another court (including the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals), or another agency you must print the docket sheet from PACER or contact the clerk’s office to request a public copy of the docket sheet that does not include the Restricted Document Folder.
I need to file a document under seal. What should I do?
The new process for handling cooperation information does not impact the process for requesting permission for filing sealed documents. However, if your reason for filing a document under seal is the presence of cooperation information, that document should be submitted using the cooperator information process rather than sealed document process.
Kansas City 913-735-2200