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United States v. Hiramanek

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

July 26, 2017




         Before the Court is Respondent Adil Hiramanek (“Respondent”)'s motions to file under seal various documents in this case. Respondent has filed two motions: (1) “Respondent's Rule 5.2, Civil L.R. 7-11, 79-5, Administrative Motion to Seal Documents, ” ECF 37, and (2) “Ex Parte Emergency, Expedited & Supplemental Administrative Motion To Seal Certain Documents With An Order That Petitioner Shall File Respondent & Third Parties Private Information Under Seal, ” ECF 38. For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Respondent's motions without prejudice.


         There is a “strong presumption in favor of access” to judicial records. Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). A party seeking to seal judicial records bears the burden of overcoming this presumption by articulating “compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure.” Id. at 1178-79. Compelling reasons for sealing court files generally exist when such “‘court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes, ' such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). However, “[t]he mere fact that the production of records may lead to a litigant's embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal its records.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Ultimately, “[w]hat constitutes a ‘compelling reason' is ‘best left to the sound discretion of the trial court.'” Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrslyer Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1097 (9th Cir. 2016).

         “Despite this strong preference for public access, [the Ninth Circuit has] carved out an exception, ” id. at 1097, for judicial records attached to motions that are “tangentially related to the merits of a case, ” id. at 1101. Parties moving to seal such records need only make a “particularized showing” under the “good cause” standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180 (quoting Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1138).

         In this District, parties seeking to seal judicial records must furthermore follow Civil Local Rule 79-5, which requires, inter alia, that a sealing request be “narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b) (emphasis added).


         The Court has reviewed Respondent's sealing motions and declarations in support thereof. Respondent requests that the Court seal this entire case and its related case United States v. Hiramanek, 5:17-cv-03392 (N.D. Cal. filed June 12, 2017). ECF 37. Respondent does not argue or establish compelling reasons for the Court to seal these cases entirely. In the alternative, Respondent requests that the Court seal documents listed “under ¶2” of his administrative motion to seal documents. Id. The documents Respondent seeks to seal include the underlying petition (ECF 1), “Respondent's Preliminary Quick Notice & Request for Time To Respond, ” (ECF 3), certificates of service (ECF 15, ECF 16), the order to show cause (ECF 23), and Respondent's motion to dismiss, inclusive of all declarations and exhibits (ECF 31). ECF 37. These documents are related to the merits of the case, and must be resolved under the compelling reasons standard. Ctr. for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101-2 (holding that “public access will turn on whether the motion is more than tangentially related to the merits of a case”).

         Respondent's requests are not narrowly tailored to sealable material. Although Respondent lists the “kind of information contained in the questioned document(s)” and summarizes the documents into “high level categories” that may constitute compelling reasons to seal, he does not tailor his requests to sealable information but rather requests the Court to seal all information, including legal arguments, contained in the identified documents. ECF 37. Respondent's request is overbroad and does not satisfy the compelling reasons standard or comply with Civil Local Rule 79-5(b). Respondent's sealing motions are DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. No later than 7 days from the filing of this order, Respondent may renew his motion so as to more narrowly tailor his request to seal. If Respondent does not renew his motion, he must file the unredacted documents into the public record. Alternatively, Respondent may withdraw the documents he filed in this case.

         Moreover, there is no authority for Respondent's request that the Court seal “Petitioner's future filings that contain any private information of the kind listed under section ¶1.” ECF 38. Such a request is premature. If Petitioner files sealable information in this ...

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