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What's a protective order?

In a criminal fraud case, either the prosecutors may demand the turnover of documents as part of their investigation, or they may seize records and documents when executing a search warrant. Sometimes, as appears to have happened in a raid in Cedar Rapids, the federal agents obtained some documents or records that are protected or outside the scope of the search warrant.

In this case, it involved the gathering of emails that were covered by the attorney-client privilege that were on email servers the contents of which were downloaded by federal agents. The contents of the emails are claimed to include "attorney impressions, work-product, outlines of motions, and theories of the case."

This type of this information, if it were usable by the prosecution, could cripple the defense of any defendant, as prosecutors would know all the thoughts of the defense attorney, any research they had performed, plans for motions and how they were planning to defend their client. The defense attorneys note this information will cause their client irreparable harm.

A protective order would prohibit the prosecutors from looking at or using the information from any of these emails. The client is a Halal meat exporter and the federal raid was connected to one of the company's logistics clients. That entity is being investigated on separate grounds involving illegal firearm's exports.

In any criminal investigation or prosecution, you always want your own attorney, who is looking after your interests, as when complex situations like this occur, individuals and entities can become so busy defending their own case that they have little interest in protecting the Fourth Amendment or attorney-client privilege rights of others.

Foodsafetynews.com, "Defense: Halal Case Documents Swept Up in Iowa Federal Raids," Dan Flynn, May 15, 2015

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