United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S SEALING REQUEST
SUBMITTED BY EMAIL FOR IN CAMERA CONSIDERATION
GERLAND E. BURRELL JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
17, 2016, Defendant emailed chambers a sealing request for in
camera consideration of his request to have filed under seal
documents he references in his publicly filed Sentencing
Memorandum, docketed in ECF No. 34, as "Exhibit B (Filed
Under Seal)" and "Exhibit C (Filed Under
Seal)". Defendant argues in his publicly filed Notice of
his sealing request: "the defendant's
psychoeducational evaluation (Exhibit B) and Assessment
Report (Exhibit C) from Special Education Programs [b]oth
[should be sealed because they] . . . contain private medical
history and identifying information that is not for public
record and cannot be easily redacted without losing material
information." (ECF No. 33.) If the requested sealing
order issued, it would be unclear what information in the
sealed documents could be discussed in a sentencing brief or
at the hearing. Further, documents submitted to influence a
judge's sentencing decision shall be filed on the public
docket unless the proponent of secrecy
[p]rovid[es] ‘sufficiently compelling reasons' that
override the public policies favoring disclosure. When ruling
on a motion to seal court records, the district court must
balance the competing interests of the public and the party
seeking to seal judicial records.
re Midland Nat. Life Ins. Co. Annuity Sales Practices
Litig., 686 F.3d 1115, 1119 (9th Cir. 2012) (internal
citations and quotations omitted); see also PCT Int'l
Inc. v. Holland Elecs. LLC, No. CV-12-01797-PHX-JAT,
2014 WL 4722326, at *5 (D. Ariz. Sept. 23, 2014) ("[T]he
Court has an independent duty to follow the binding [secrecy
and sealing] law of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, [and]
the Court [should] not permit sealed documents absent the
requisite showing [under a sealing doctrine or
where a measure of secrecy is appropriate, the "guiding
principle . . . is that as much information as possible
should remain accessible to the public and no more should be
sealed than absolutely necessary." Lahrichi v.
Lumera Corp., No. C04-2124C, 2007 WL 1521222, at *2
(W.D. Wash. May 22, 2007). Consistent with this principle,
"courts have recognized [certain shown privacy
interests] may call for redaction of the materials or
withholding of disclosure outright." United States
v. Bus. of Custer Battlefield Museum & Store, 658 F.3d
1188, 1195 (9th Cir. 2011).
asserts in a conclusory manner that he cannot easily make
redactions "without losing material information."
(ECF No. 33.) However, it is unclear what material
information would be lost. Further, Defendant argues in a
conclusory manner that the information he seeks to be sealed
"is not for public record[.]" (ECF No. 33.)
However, "[t]he mere fact that judicial records may
reveal potentially embarrassing information is not in itself
sufficient reason to block public access." Siedle v.
Putnam Investments, Inc., 147 F.3d 7, 10 (1st Cir.
1998); see also United States v. King, No. 10 CR 122
JGK, 2012 WL 2196674, at *2-3 (S.D.N.Y. June 15, 2012)
(denying a defendant's request to file sentencing
documents under seal where the documents "relate to
medical conditions that the Court [was] asked to consider in
arriving at the sentence"). "To be designated as a
judicial document, the item filed must be relevant to the
performance of the judicial function and useful in the
judicial process." United States v. Sattar, 471
F.Supp.2d 380, 385 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (quotations and citations
omitted). The exhibits are obviously "submitted to the
Court to provide information with respect to the crucial
judicial function of sentencing." Id.
the exhibits in conjunction with the advisory guideline
prison sentencing recommendation in Defendant's
Presentence Report, and the prison sentence to which the
parties' agreed in their conditional plea agreement, it
is apparent that Defendant relies on the exhibits as support
for his argument that a sentence be imposed that is
considerably below the advisory guidelines sentencing range.
when sentencing outside the advisory guideline range, 18
U.S.C. § 3553(c) prescribes in pertinent part:
The court, at the time of sentencing, shall state in open
court the reasons for its imposition of the particular
sentence, and, if the sentence . . . is outside the range, .
. . the specific reason for the imposition of a sentence
different from that described . . . must . . . be stated with
specificity. . . except to the extent that the court relies
upon statements received in camera . . .
18 U.S.C. § 3553(c). The Supreme Court in Rita v.
United States, 551 U.S. 338, 356 (2007), states:
[the requirement in the statute] for the judge to
‘state' his ‘reasons' . . . reflects
sound judicial practice. Judicial decisions are reasoned
decisions. Confidence in a judge's use of reason
underlies the public's trust in the judicial institution.
A public statement of those reasons helps provide the public
with the assurance that creates that trust.
absent a showing of compelling reasons that override the
public policy favoring disclosure, sentencing information
should not be sealed.
Defendant has not justified his Sealing Request, it is
denied. Therefore, the documents submitted for sealing are
treated as having been returned to Defendant so that he can
decide how to proceed. See generally Local Rule
141(e)(1) (prescribing that if a sealing "[r]equest is
denied in full or in part, the Clerk will return to the
submitting party the documents for which sealing has been
denied"); United States v. Baez-Alcaino, 718
F.Supp. 1503, 1507 (M.D. Fla. 1989) (indicating ...