United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. McFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
federal grand jury indicted Donzell Dixon on counts of
robbery; using, brandishing, and carrying a firearm during
the robbery; and unlawful possession of a firearm by a
convicted felon. To expedite the provision of discovery to
Dixon while guarding the victim's privacy and safety
rights, the Government has moved for a protective order to
limit the viewing, use, dissemination, and post-litigation
retention of police body-worn camera (“BWC”)
material. Because the Government has shown good cause, the
Court will grant the motion.
was arrested in December 2018. See ECF No. 2. A
“significant amount” of BWC video footage
relevant to his case was captured by “numerous [police]
officers.” Gov't's Mot. for Protective Order
Governing Body Worn Camera Materials (“Gov't's
Mot.”) at 2, ECF No. 8. The officers recorded
“footage from the victim's report of the armed
robbery the night of the incident, as well as footage from .
. . the execution of the search warrant at the
defendant's home approximately two days later.”
two months since Dixon's arrest, the parties have
“attempted to come to a consensus on an appropriate
protective order” for the BWC footage but “are at
irreconcilable odds on this issue.” Id. at 1.
The Government believes that a protective order is necessary
to ensure the privacy and safety of the victim and
“numerous civilian witnesses unrelated to this
investigation.” Id. at 2. Among other things,
the proposed order:
• Precludes disclosure of the BWC material to anyone
other than Dixon, his legal defense team, and people
authorized by the Court;
• Requires defense counsel to ensure that neither Dixon
nor anyone other than the legal defense team view any footage
that includes personally identifying information about the
victim or a witness; and
• Prohibits use of the BWC material in matters unrelated
to this case.
See Protective Order Governing Discovery of Body
Worn Camera Materials (“Protective Order”), ECF
contests the need for this order. He suggests that
“[v]ideo footage that captures the victim or shows
civilian witnesses, without more, does not establish good
cause for any special protection.” Def.'s Opp. to
Gov't's Mot. (“Def.'s Opp.”) at 3,
ECF No. 9. Both parties have submitted briefs detailing their
Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 governs discovery in criminal
cases. Rule 16(a) requires the Government to produce, upon
the defendant's request, any documents and data that are
material to preparing the defense. See Fed. R. Crim.
P. 16(a)(1)(A)-(G). But upon a showing of good cause, courts
may “deny, restrict, or defer discovery . . . or grant
other appropriate relief.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(d). This
relief includes issuing protective orders. See id.
the Government is seeking a protective order, it bears the
burden of showing that good cause exists for its issuance.
See United States v. Johnson, 314 F.Supp.3d 248, 251
(D.D.C. 2018). Good cause requires a “particularized,
specific showing.” United States v. Bulger,
283 F.R.D. 46, 52 (D. Mass. 2012). But the level of
particularity required depends on the nature and type of
protective order at issue. Id.
determining whether good cause exists, courts have considered
whether (1) disclosure of the materials in question would
pose a hazard to others; (2) the defendant would be
prejudiced by a protective order; and (3) the public's
interest in disclosure outweighs the possible harm. See,
e.g., United States v. Smith, 985 F.Supp.2d 506
(S.D.N.Y. 2013). “Among the considerations to be taken
into account by the court will be the safety of witnesses and
others, a particular danger of perjury or witness
intimidation, and the protection of information vital to
national security.” United States v. Cordova,
806 F.3d 1085, 1090 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (cleaned up).
often issue protective orders in criminal cases. They have
“vast” discretion to “assure that a
defendant's right to a fair trial [is] not overridden by
the confidentiality and privacy interests of others.”
United States v. O'Keefe, 2007 WL 1239204 at *2
(D.D.C. 2007). Indeed, courts “can and should, where
appropriate, place a defendant and his counsel under
enforceable orders against unwarranted ...