United States District Court, E.D. California
November 26, 2014
ERIC GREEN, Plaintiff,
CORRECTIONS OFFICER O. DELGADO, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING EX PARTE REQUEST TO SEAL LODGED DOCUMENTS ORDER DISREGARDING LODGED MOTION
JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.
On November 22, 2014, Plaintiff forwarded documents to the Court ex parte and requested that they be sealed. Nevertheless, Plaintiff failed to comply with Local Rule 141 related to requests to seal documents and failed to set forth any justification for sealing. Thus, the request to seal the documents is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
I. Legal Authority
The request to seal documents is controlled by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). The Rule permits the Court to issue orders to "protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including... requiring that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a specified way." Only if good cause exists may the Court seal the information from public view after balancing "the needs for discovery against the need for confidentiality.'" Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010) (quoting Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2002)).
Generally, documents filed in civil cases are presumed to be available to the public. EEOC v. Erection Co., 900 F.2d 168, 170 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir.2006); Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1134 (9th Cir.2003). Documents may be sealed only when the compelling reasons for doing so outweigh the public's right of access. EEOC at 170. In evaluating the request, the Court considers the "public interest in understanding the judicial process and whether disclosure of the material could result in improper use of the material for scandalous or libelous purposes or infringement upon trade secrets." Valley Broadcasting Co. v. United States District Court, 798 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1986).
Notably, this Court's Local Rule 141 sets forth how a request to seal documents should proceed. First, the requesting party should file on the public docket a Notice of Request to Seal Documents. L.R. 141(a). Concurrently with this filing, the requesting party must lodge a Request to Seal Documents which addresses the specific pages of the documents sought to be sealed, the information contained therein and explanation for why the information should be shielded from public view. L.R. 141(b). Ideally, at this time, the moving party would lodge also a proposed redacted copy of the documents with the confidential information obliterated, if any portion of the document is not subject to sealing. The email containing this lodged information must be copied to opposing counsel unless there is sufficient explanation set forth why the matter should proceed ex parte. Then, if there is no objection to the request to seal (L.R. 141(c)), the Court must determine whether each of the pages of the document should be shielded from public view or to what extent they should be.
Based upon the foregoing, the Court ORDERS:
1. The request to file the lodged documents under seal is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE;
2. Because the lodged motion was not filed on the public docket and the Court denies the request to file it under seal, the lodged motion is DISREGARDED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.