United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. KOLAR MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Leave to File
Exhibit Under Seal [DE 143], filed by Defendant City of
Hammond (“Defendant Hammond”) on February 13,
2019, and on Plaintiff's Motion, Under Protest, To File
Under Seal Pursuant to L.R. 5.3(c) [DE 146], filed by
Plaintiff Szany on February 14, 2019. No. response to either
motion was filed, and the deadlines by which to do so have
passed. This matter is also before the Court on Defendant
Hammond's Motion to Redact Transcript [DE 162] on
February 27, 2019, which is not yet fully briefed.
document at issue in Defendant Hammond's Motion for Leave
to File Exhibit Under Seal has been released to the media in
response to a records request. The only reason stated in the
motion for seeking leave to file the document under seal is
that it falls under the provisions in the Protective Order
issued in this case. Because the document has been released
to the public and no further justification has been presented
to justify the continuation of the seal on this document, the
Court orders the seal to be lifted from the document in
Defendant Hammond's motion.
Court now turns to Plaintiff's motion. Plaintiff has made
clear that she is only seeking leave to file documents under
seal because they have been designated confidential by
Defendant Hammond and not because she believes that sealing
the documents from the public's view is proper. The
better mechanism for Plaintiff to present her argument to the
Court would have been to file a motion for leave to file the
documents openly on the docket, as indicated in paragraph 6
of the Protective Order. (See ECF No. 103).
Nevertheless, Plaintiff has asserted that the documents
should be filed openly on the docket, and no party has argued
that she is incorrect. However, Defendant Hammond has, in its
Motion to Redact Transcript, sought to redact testimony
similar to the testimony at issue in Plaintiff's motion.
to Northern District of Indiana Local Rule 5-3, “[n]o
document will be maintained under seal in the absence of an
authorizing statute, Court rule, or Court order.” N.D.
Ind. L.R. 5-3(a). The public pays for the courts and, thus,
has an interest in judicial records. Forst v. SmithKline
Beecham Corp., 602 F.Supp.2d 960, 974 (E.D. Wis. 2009);
accord Hicklin Eng'g, L.C. v. Bartell, 439 F.3d
346, 348 (7th Cir. 2006) (“What happens in the federal
courts is presumptively open to public scrutiny.”)
(abrogation on other grounds recognized by RTP LLC v.
ORIX Real Estate Capital, Inc., 827 F.3d 689 (7th Cir.
2016)). The general presumption that judicial records are
public is overridden when “the property and privacy
interests of the litigants . . . predominate in the
particular case.” Citizens First Nat'l Bank v.
Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999).
“Any step that withdraws an element of the judicial
process from public view makes the ensuing decision look more
like fiat and requires rigorous justification.”
Hicklin Eng'g, L.C., 439 F.3d at 348. However,
“the presumption of public access applies only to the
materials that formed the basis of the parties' dispute
and the district court's resolution; other materials that
may have crept into the record are not subject to the
presumption.” Goesel v. Boley Int'l (H.K.)
Ltd., 738 F.3d 831, 833 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Baxter Int'l, Inc.
v. Abbott Labs., 297 F.3d 544, 548 (7th Cir. 2002)).
agreement of the parties is no substitute for the good cause
required for sealing a document, as the parties do not
adequately represent the public's interest. Citizens
First Nat'l Bank, 178 F.3d at 945. Instead, a motion
to seal should analyze the applicable legal criteria and
present argument that the documents sought to be filed under
seal either contains a protectable trade secret or otherwise
may legitimately be withheld from the public view. Baxter
Int'l, Inc., 297 F.3d at 546 (citing Composite
Marine Propellers, Inc. v. Van Der Woude, 962 F.2d 1263,
1266 (7th Cir.1992)).
Court is not satisfied that good cause has been shown for
maintaining the seal on the documents at issue in
Plaintiff's motion, and she has made clear that she does
not consider the seal to be proper. Because Defendant Hammond
has sought to maintain similar testimony under seal in its
Motion to Redact Transcript, however, it is given additional
time to justify a seal on these documents under the
Plaintiff has twice sought to file documents under seal by
filing them manually with the Court. This is not the proper
procedure. Instead, the CM/ECF Civil and Criminal User Manual
section IV.A.2. instructs:
In instances where a civil case is not sealed, but a party
wishes to file sealed motions or sealed documents, those
documents shall be filed electronically in the CM/ECF system
using the appropriate civil event, either “Sealed
Motion” or “Sealed Document.” These events
will produce a publicly viewable docket entry but will not
allow access to the attached .pdf document. Any distribution
to parties must be made conventionally on paper.
failure to file sealed documents electronically may lead to
the documents being stricken.
on the foregoing, the Court hereby DENIES
the Motion for Leave to File Exhibit Under Seal [DE 143] and
TAKES UNDER ADVISEMENT Plaintiff's
Motion, Under Protest, to File Under Seal Pursuant to L.R.
5.3(c) [DE 146].
Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to
LIFT the seal from docket entry 144.
Court ORDERS that Defendant Hammond shall
have until March 15, 2019, to file any response to
Plaintiff's Motion, Under Protest, to File Under Seal
Pursuant to L.R. 5.3(c) [DE 146] and to file any supplement
to its Motion to Redact Transcript [DE 162]. Plaintiff's
and Defendant Garcia's deadline to file any response to
the Motion to Redact Transcript ...