The U.S. Justice Department cannot continue to withhold the names of would-be compliance monitors who were ultimately not selected to oversee 15 corporate entities that reached deferred prosecution agreements, a Washington federal trial judge said.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras of the District of Columbia came in a pending public-records suit that challenged the authority of the government to keep secret the names of monitor candidates—and their associated law or consulting firms—that the defendant companies proposed to the Justice Department.