The goal of this office is to provide the media, and public, with relevant information pertaining to criminal and civil matters handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia in a timely and appropriate manner. There are several factors which are carefully evaluated when considering the release of case information.
Interests Must be Balanced
Our office recognizes that three principal interests must be balanced: the right of the public to know; an individual’s right to a fair trial; and, the government’s ability to effectively enforce the administration of justice.
Need for Confidentiality
Careful weight must be given in each case to protecting the rights of the victims and litigants as well as the protection of the life and safety of other parties and witnesses. To this end, the Courts and Congress have recognized the need for limited confidentiality in:
- On-going operations and investigations;
- Grand jury and tax matter;
- Certain investigative techniques; and,
- Other matters protected by law
Need for Free Press and Public Trial
Likewise, careful weight must be given in each case to the constitutional requirements of a free press and public trials as well as the right of the people in a constitutional democracy to have access to information about the conduct of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and courts, consistent with the individual rights of the accused. Further, recognition should be given to the needs of public safety, the apprehension of fugitives, and the rights of the public to be informed on matters that can affect enactment or enforcement of public laws or the development or change of public policy.
These principles must be evaluated in each case and must involve a fair degree of discretion and the exercise of sound judgment, as every possibility cannot be predicted and covered by written policy statement.