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Gressett v. Contra Costa County

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 21, 2015

MICHAEL GRESSETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO UNSEAL DEPOSITION OF JANE DOE; ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL; AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHY PARTIES SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO REFER TO MS. DOE PSEUDONYMOUSLY (Docket Nos. 199, 202)

EDWARD M. CHEN, District Judge.

On December 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to unseal the deposition of Jane Doe in its entirety, or alternatively to unseal substantial portions of Ms. Doe's deposition. Docket No. 199. The only legal authority cited by Plaintiff in support of its motion is the commentary to this Court's Civil Local Rule 79-5, which provides generally that "the Court has a policy of providing to the public full access to documents filed with the Court."[1]

The Court initially observes that deposition transcripts are not typically made public in the course of litigation. See Kamakana v. City and Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 2006) (observing that "private materials unearthed during discovery" are not judicial records typically available to the public). Only those portions of a deposition transcript that are actually used in the litigation ( e.g., those portions filed in support of a motion) will potentially become a matter of public record. See id. at 1180 (holding that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) "gives the district court much flexibility in balancing and protecting the interests of private parties" vis-a-vis "documents produced in discovery"). Plaintiff provides no authority or reason why this Court should deviate from the standard practice. Moreover, the Court cannot think of any reason the Plaintiff would wish to unseal Ms. Doe's entire deposition record, especially given the sensitive nature of Ms. Doe's testimony.

To the extent Plaintiff wishes to use certain portions of Ms. Doe's deposition transcript or exhibits in an actual filing with this Court, Plaintiff may make an appropriate motion - supported with relevant legal authority and case law - explaining why the specific deposition excerpts or exhibits actually filed should be unsealed. Absent such a motion, the entirety of Ms. Doe's deposition record will remain sealed in this action.

Similarly, if, in the future, Plaintiff objects to any request for sealing made by either Defendants or Ms. Doe, Plaintiff must provide relevant legal authority and case law to explain why the documents and/or information should not be sealed. In this regard, the Court notes that Defendants and Ms. Doe have already asked for certain exhibits submitted by Defendants as part of their motion for summary judgment to be sealed. Plaintiff did not oppose the request, and Defendants and Ms. Doe have articulated reasonable grounds for sealing. See Civ. L.R. 7-11 (providing that opposition to motion for administrative relief "must be filed no later than 4 days after the motion has been filed"). Accordingly, the Court hereby grants Defendants' motion to seal (supported by Ms. Doe). See Docket No. 202 (motion).

Finally, the Court notes that there is a dispute between the parties as to whether Ms. Doe should be referred to in all court papers filed in this action as "Ms. Doe, " as opposed to her true name. Plaintiff is ordered to show cause, in a brief not to exceed five (5) pages in length, why Plaintiff shall not be required to refer to Ms. Doe solely by her pseudonym in all future filings in this case. Plaintiff's brief shall be filed no later than Friday, January 30, 2015. Defendants and/or Ms. Doe may file opposition briefs, similarly not to exceed five (5) pages in length, no later than Friday, February 6, 2015.

This order disposes of Docket Nos. 199 and 202.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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