Photo of Steve McBradyPhoto of Brian Tully McLaughlinPhoto of Lyndsay GortonPhoto of Alexandra Barbee-Garrett

On January 6, 2021, the Administrative Conference of U.S. Courts authorized federal district courts to develop policies for accepting “highly sensitive court documents (HSDs),” which would normally be filed electronically under seal, via paper filing. The statement from the Administrative Conference also acknowledged that the recent cybersecurity attack on SolarWinds products compromised the confidentiality of documents filed under seal on the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files system (CM/ECF).

As a result, courts nationwide are issuing notices delineating what constitute HSDs, and how parties must file HSDs, effective immediately. While some courts have yet to issue guidance, a number of other federal courts have issued general orders requiring that HSDs be filed in paper in drop boxes in or outside the courts. Individual courts are left with a split between treating all sealed documents as HSDs, and leaving to the presiding Judge, or if none, the Chief Judge, the determination of whether a document is an HSD. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will take the latter approach and has provided that the HSD determination may consider whether the document contains closely held trade secrets, or confidential government enforcement information.

On a practical level, these orders may require that sealed documents, including bid protests, are filed by the court’s close of business to be considered timely filed, rather than 11:59 p.m., the deadline for electronic filing. The orders also may require more conferences among the parties to reach consensus on what information must be filed under seal, particularly if the presiding Judge or Chief Judge of a District has to decide when the parties fail to agree, as is often the case. We will continue to monitor these developments.

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Photo of Brian Tully McLaughlin Brian Tully McLaughlin

Brian Tully McLaughlin is a partner in the Government Contracts Group in Washington, D.C. and co-chair of the False Claims Act Practice. Tully’s practice focuses on False Claims Act investigations and litigation, particularly trial and appellate work, as well as litigation of a…

Brian Tully McLaughlin is a partner in the Government Contracts Group in Washington, D.C. and co-chair of the False Claims Act Practice. Tully’s practice focuses on False Claims Act investigations and litigation, particularly trial and appellate work, as well as litigation of a variety of complex claims, disputes, and recovery matters. Tully’s False Claims Act experience spans procurement fraud, healthcare fraud, defense industry fraud, and more. He conducts internal investigations and represents clients in government investigations who are facing fraud or False Claims Act allegations. Tully has successfully litigated False Claims Act cases through trial and appeal, both those brought by whistleblowers / qui tam relators and the Department of Justice alike. He also focuses on affirmative claims recovery matters, analyzing potential claims and changes, counseling clients, and representing government contractors, including subcontractors, in claims and disputes proceedings before administrative boards of contract appeals and the Court of Federal Claims, as well as in international arbitration. His claims recovery experience includes unprecedented damages and fee awards. Tully has appeared and tried cases before judges and juries in federal district courts, state courts, and administrative boards of contract appeals, and he has argued successful appeals before the D.C. Circuit, the Federal Circuit, and the Fourth and Seventh Circuits.

Photo of Lyndsay Gorton Lyndsay Gorton

Lyndsay Gorton is a Government Contracts counsel in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on government contracts litigation and counseling, including government investigations, fraud matters under the False Claims Act, bid protests, and federal and state regulatory compliance. In addition…

Lyndsay Gorton is a Government Contracts counsel in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on government contracts litigation and counseling, including government investigations, fraud matters under the False Claims Act, bid protests, and federal and state regulatory compliance. In addition to her primary government contracts practice, Lyndsay has federal court litigation experience representing a broad variety of clients in commercial litigation matters, and has led and managed teams at every stage of litigation, including discovery, dispositive motion practice, trial, and settlement. She also uses her litigation experience to assist her clients with internal investigations, risk management, and compliance.

Photo of Alexandra Barbee-Garrett Alexandra Barbee-Garrett

Alexandra Barbee-Garrett is an associate in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office, where she practices in the Government Contracts Group.

Alex represents government contractors in both litigation and counseling matters. Her practice includes bid protests before the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S.

Alexandra Barbee-Garrett is an associate in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office, where she practices in the Government Contracts Group.

Alex represents government contractors in both litigation and counseling matters. Her practice includes bid protests before the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Alex’s practice also focuses on federal regulatory compliance, mandatory disclosures to the government, contract disputes under the Contract Disputes Act (CDA), prime-sub disputes, and False Claims Act and internal investigations.

Prior to joining Crowell & Moring, Alex was a law clerk to Judge Richard A. Hertling of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and a government contracts associate at another large law firm. Alex graduated honors from The George Washington University Law School, where she was an articles editor of The Public Contract Law Journal. Alex won the 2015 Government Contracts Moot Court Competition and served as chair for the 2016 competition. Prior to law school, Alex worked as a health care legislative assistant for Rep. Rick Larsen (WA) in the U.S. House of Representatives. She received her B.A. in international studies and anthropology from the University of Washington.