Dunn et al v. Thomas et al
PHASE 2A OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO REDACT: It is ORDERED that the defendants' motion to redact portions of Dr. David Tytell's transcript (doc. no. 1314 ) is denied. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 8/25/2017. (kh, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
EDWARD BRAGGS, et al.,
JEFFERSON S. DUNN, in his
official capacity as
the Alabama Department of
Corrections, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
PHASE 2A OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO REDACT
litigation is whether to redact the trial testimony of
Beginning in December 2016, the court conducted a
two-month bench trial concerning the constitutionality
See Braggs v. Dunn, --- F. Supp.
testimony and other evidence).
The defendants have now
moved to redact the transcript of the trial testimony
of Dr. David Tytell, the chief psychologist of ADOC.
The plaintiffs oppose this motion.
The court finds
from Dr. Tytell’s testimony.
A "strong common law presumption of public access"
applies to trial records.
Wilson v. Am. Motors Corp.,
759 F.2d 1568, 1571 (11th Cir. 1985).
right of access, however, may be overcome by a showing
of good cause, which requires “balancing the asserted
right of access against the other party's interest in
Drummond Co., 480 F.3d 1234, 1246 (11th Cir. 2007).
Whether good cause exists depends on “the nature and
character of information in question.”
consider include: “whether allowing access would impair
court functions or harm legitimate privacy interests,
the degree of and likelihood of injury if made public,
the reliability of the information, whether there will
whether the information concerns public officials or
public concerns, and the availability of a less onerous
alternative to sealing the documents.”
The portions that the defendants seek to redact are
general descriptions of prisoners who committed suicide
while in segregation, referred to by their initials,
including their history of suicide attempts, housing
defendants argue that good cause exists for redacting
this information because “it includes sensitive medical
and mental health information surrounding the deaths of
Def. Br. (doc. no. 1314) at 2.
Tytell’s testimony, the court finds that any privacy
interest in the information at issue is minimal, and
that any harm that would arise from public access is
First, much of the information relating to
outlets, minimizing any harm that may arise from this
prisoners whose suicides are at issue have no privacy
Archives & Records Admin. v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157, 168–
character or memory of a deceased relative, but it is
the right of the living, and not that of the dead,
which is recognized.”) (quoting Schuyler v. Curtis, 147
N.Y. 434, 447 (1895)).
And the defendants have not
shown that surviving family members have asserted their
privacy interests “in the character and memory of the
Id. (explaining the nature of the
privacy interests held by surviving family members in
medical records of prisoners, and their testimony about
their mental-health symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment.
much less detailed and sensitive, due to the level of
otherwise publicly available information regarding the
testimony at issue involves a public concern that is
“at the heart of the interest protected by the right of
access: the citizen’s desire to keep a watchful eye on
the workings of public agencies and the operation of
quotation omitted) (citing Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns,
consequences of the defendants’ segregation practices,
major part of the court’s liability findings in this
case; the public has a strong interest in learning of
these practices and their consequences, as reflected in
these suicides, as well as an interest in reviewing the
factual basis for the court’s findings.
F.Supp.2d at ---. 2017 WL 2773833, at *45-52.
the weight of the public concern at stake, the minimal
privacy interests articulated by the defendants do not
constitute good cause for restricting public access of
the trial record.
* * *
transcript (doc. no. 1314) is denied.
DONE, this the 25th day of August, 2017.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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