Legal History

Fed'l Judge Unseals Watergate Trial Records for G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord

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Unsealing a significant chunk of legal history, a federal judge has OK’d a history professor’s request for access to the criminal trial records of two men prosecuted in 1973 in connection with the Watergate break-in and cover-up.

In a Friday order (PDF), U.S. District Judge Judge Royce Lamberth said that some of the trial records for G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord should be released within 30 days, according to Politico.

However, the judge did not unseal all of the records and rejected a portion of the petition by Luke Nichter, a Texas A&M University history professor, which sought a court-ordered probe of what he described as breaches by the Washington Post of grand jury secrecy. The newspaper famously served as the driving force in exposing the Watergate scandal that eventually resulted in President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation from office.

“The National Archives has told me they have an enormous quantity of Watergate records still sealed,” Nichter said after the ruling. “They’ve told me they hope to bring these documents out of legal limbo,” he continued, but they can’t be accessed through a Freedom of Information Act request. “It takes extraordinary action by a judge to bring them out.”

The judge told the National Archives and Records Administration to review and release the material in 30 days.

The Associated Press also has a story.

Also see:

ABA Journal: The Lawyers of Watergate: How a ‘3rd-Rate Burglary’ Provoked New Standards for Lawyer Ethics

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