Judge strikes down the SEC request to withhold certain internal email conversations from Ripple case

A federal judge is dismissing a request by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to withhold certain internal email conversations from a lawsuit against Ripple.

Judge strikes down regulator’s request to withhold key documents in Ripple lawsuit

Federal Judge Sarah Netburn ordered the SEC to deliver requested manuscripts and emails related to a 2018 speech from William Hinman, the former director of the Commission’s Corporate Finance Division.

Hinman said Ethereum is not security during the keynote. The SEC sued Ripple in December 2020, alleging that the company sold XRP as an unregistered security, a position the regulator maintains to this day. The regulator has also filed individual charges against Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and the company’s co-founder, Chris Larsen.

Netburn first ordered the SEC to produce the emails in January, but the SEC challenged the order. While Netburn denied the SEC’s request to review the order, she explained.

Explains the judge,

“As discussed above, the question is whether any of the communications about, edits to, or comments on drafts of the Speech were not just related to specific deliberations facing the agency but comprised an ‘essential link’ in those deliberations. Having reviewed the documents, I find that, in general, agency staff communications about edits to the Speech—and the edits themselves—were not part of deliberations about how to communicate agency policy.

However, to the extent that there exist communications between staff discussing the Speech in how it implicates other, separate agency deliberations—not deliberations about the content of the speech—the SEC may seek to leave to redact those communications from its production. To give the SEC some guidance, comment 12 on page 6 of the Speech draft in Document J, submitted for in camera review, is the type of communication contemplated.”

The “Document J” Judge Netburn mentions is not publicly available.

Attorney and crypto legal expert Jeremy Hogan says on Twitter that the clarification is “a little concerning.”

“My concern: it’s those parts of the emails that are most damaging to the SEC. How will we know? If the SEC appeals to Judge Torres, they are in trouble.”

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