United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL RE: DKT.
NOS. 22, 23
order resolves the pending administrative motion to file
documents under seal in this case, Dkt. No. 23, as well as
approves the parties' stipulated protective order
regarding the same documents, Dkt. No. 22, except in those
cases where the stipulated protective order conflicts with
the Court's standing orders.
circuit, in evaluating a motion to seal, two different
standards apply depending on whether the request is being
made in connection with a dispositive motion or a
dispositive motions, the historic “strong presumption
of access to judicial records” fully applies, and a
party seeking sealing must establish “compelling
reasons” to overcome that presumption. Kamakana v.
City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th
Cir. 2006). This standard presents a “high threshold,
” and “a ‘good cause' showing will not,
without more, satisfy” it. Id. at 1180. When
ordering sealing in this context, the district court must
also “articulate the rationale underlying its decision
to seal.” Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp., 658
F.3d 1150, 1162 (9th Cir. 2011).
non-dispositive motion context is different. There, the
“public has less of a need for access to court records
attached only to non-dispositive motions, ” and
“the public policies that support the right of access
to dispositive motions, and related materials, do not apply
with equal force to non-dispositive materials.”
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. In that context,
materials may be sealed so long as the party seeking sealing
makes a “particularized showing” under the
“good cause” standard of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 26(c). Id. at 1180 (citation omitted).
distinction between dispositive and non-dispositive motions
is not literal, but depends on “whether the motion is
more than tangentially related to the merits of a
case.” Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp.,
LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1101 (9th Cir. 2016). Motions that
are “technically nondispositive” yet
“strongly correlative to the merits of a case”
are subject to the presumption of public access to judicial
records and the corresponding sealing standards. Id.
addition to meeting the standard under Kamakana, all
parties requesting sealing must also comply Civil Local Rule
79-5, including that rule's requirement that the request
must “establish that the document, or portions
thereof, are privileged, protectable as a trade secret or
otherwise entitled to protection under the law, ”
i.e., is “sealable.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b).
The sealing request must also “be narrowly tailored to
seek sealing only of sealable material.” Id.
more stringent “compelling reasons” standard for
dispositive motions applies here and is satisfied. The
sealing request is made in connection to Alameda County's
opposition to plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary
injunction, Dkt. No. 19, which was also the case in
Center for Auto Safety. While noting that a motion
for preliminary injunction is “technically
nondispositive, ” it concluded that since the motion
“was more than tangentially related to the merits of
the case, ” the district court was required “to
consider the documents under the compelling reasons
standard.” Ctr. for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at
County seeks to seal video footage and still photographs
depicting units at Santa Rita Jail that house women. Dkt. No.
22 at 2. Specifically, it seeks to seal two videos, Dkt. No.
24, Exs. A, E, from body cameras worn by sheriff's
deputies conducting nighttime safety checks. Dkt. No. 24 at
2. It also seeks to seal two photographs, Dkt. No. 24, Exs.
B, C, of lead plaintiff Upshaw's housing unit. Dkt. No.
24 at 12. The County argues that there are two compelling
reasons why these exhibits should be sealed -- jail security
and privacy of third parties (i.e., nonparty inmates). Dkt.
Nos. 23, 23-1.
have opposed defendants' motion to seal, essentially
arguing that defendants have waived the right to request
sealing because they have previously permitted television
stations to film and broadcast video of the same facilities
depicted in the exhibits. Dkt. No. 25 at 3. But while general
video of the facilities may have been published in the past,
plaintiffs have not established that the videos and
photograph sought to be sealed have been publicly released.
Consequently, waiver is not an issue. Plaintiffs also argue
that defendants' status as public entities militates
against sealing in this case. Id. at 4. But this
element is present in all cases where prison officials seek
to seal, and it does not overcome the “institutional
security goals within a detention facility.” Bull
v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 595 F.3d 964, 971
(9th Cir. 2010).
have met their burden and demonstrated compelling security
reasons why the exhibits should be sealed. As the Supreme
Court has recognized, “Prison administrators . . .
should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and
execution of policies and practices that in their judgment
are needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to
maintain institutional security.” Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547 (1979). The body camera
videos from deputies' safety checks document
“sensitive, secure areas of the jail as well as
practices with regard to performing safety checks.”
Dkt. No. 23-1 ¶ 3. The photographs, which prison
officials never intended to make public, also depict
sensitive and secure areas. This is enough to warrant
sealing. See Napier v. Cty. of Washtenaw, No.
11-cv-13057, 2013 WL 1395870, at *11 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 5,
2013); Fosselman v. Evans, No. 07-cv-PJH-PR, 2011 WL
939616, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 15, 2011).