Graham v. Runnels, et al

Filing 99

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows on 4/9/12 ORDERING that while defendants have submitted the unredacted documents for the courts review, the court will now require defendants, within 14 days, to submit for in camera review by this court a proposed redacted version of the documents. The court contemplates filing the unredacted motion/opposition under seal with a public filing of the redacted motion/opposition.(Dillon, M)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 LEVON D. GRAHAM, 10 Plaintiff, 11 12 13 14 15 No. CIV S-07-2291 GGH P vs. D.L. RUNNELS, et al., Defendants. ORDER / Defendants Kopec and Martin filed, on March 29, 2012, a notice of 16 motion/request to seal, in essence, their entire pending motion for summary judgment, i.e., (1) 17 the memorandum of points and authorities; (2) the statement of undisputed facts; and (3) index of 18 evidence and attached evidence. Notice of Request to Seal Documents (docket # 96), citing 19 Local Rule 141(b). The notice also indicates that all documents for which sealing is being 20 requested are to be served upon plaintiff’s counsel (eyes only) on the date the notice was filed, 21 and thus no prejudice to plaintiff will result. Sealing Request, Docket # 96, p. 3. Defendants 22 note the prior protective order with regard to discovery, that was filed on (docket # 74), and 23 contend that, for the same reason, the documents in support of defendants’ motion for summary 24 judgment should be sealed, i.e., because the “documents contain sensitive information pertaining 25 to forcible cell extractions and the munitions used by the California Department of Corrections 26 and Rehabilitation,” the public disclosure of which would pose a danger to “the safety of officers 1 1 and compromise the effectiveness of their response.” Sealing Request, Docket # 96, p. 3. 2 Defendants also argue that this court has recognized the security risk by having appointed 3 counsel for the incarcerated plaintiff, as well as having issued the protective order. Where a party seeks to seal judicial records pertaining to a dispositive motion 4 5 from public scrutiny, a “compelling reasons” standard applies.1 Pintos v. Pacific Creditors 6 Ass’n., 605 F.3d 665, 677-78 (9th Cir. 2010). “Consequently, [the moving party] must overcome 7 a strong presumption of access by showing that “compelling reasons supported by specific 8 factual findings ... outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring 9 disclosure.” Id. at 679, (quoting Kamakana v. City & County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 10 1178-79 (9th Cir. 2006)) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The court is tasked 11 with weighing factors such as the “public interest in understanding the judicial process and 12 whether disclosure of the material could result in improper use of the material for scandalous or 13 libelous purposes or infringement upon trade secrets.” Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 14 1434 (9th Cir.1995) (citing E.E.O.C. v. Erection Co., 900 F.2d 168, 170 (9th Cir.1990)). 15 Examples of compelling reasons include the necessity to keep personal information protected 16 from exposure to harm or identity theft and to protect an individual’s important privacy interest. 17 Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1184. If the witness may be susceptible to retaliation or harassment 18 based on disclosure of his or her private information, protection is warranted. Nursing Home 19 Pension Fund v. Oracle Corp., 2007 WL 3232267, *2 (N.D. Cal. 2007). 20 In addition, in the protective order referenced by defendants, the parties were 21 expressly informed that any party seeking a sealing order must show good cause for such an 22 order in connection with a non-dispositive event, and if, as in the instant one, sealing is sought in 23 connection with a dispositive event, compelling reasons must be demonstrated. See docket # 74, 24 p. 3 [emphasis added]. That strict standard has not been met by the present overbroad request to 25 1 26 The compelling reasons standard applies even to dispositive matters that were previously filed under seal. Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1136 (9th Cir. 2003). 2 1 seal the entire submission wholesale, notwithstanding plaintiff’s counsel’s apparent decision not 2 to oppose the motion (see Local Rule 141(c)). The undersigned is unwilling to issue a blanket 3 sealing order for all documents in support of defendants’ motion for summary judgment because 4 to do so defies both the letter and spirit of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Pintos. 605 F.3d at 677- 5 79. While defendants have submitted the unredacted documents for the court’s 6 7 review, the court will now require defendants, within fourteen days, to submit for in camera 8 review by this court a proposed redacted version of the documents. The proposed redacted 9 version for filing should be focused and tailored to preclude from disclosure only those portions 10 of the summary judgment motion and supporting documents that legitimately implicate 11 significant institutional security concerns. This requirement does not impact the deadlines for 12 filing any opposition or reply to the pending summary judgment motion. In filing an opposition, 13 plaintiff’s counsel shall exercise due regard for institutional security concerns, and, if necessary, 14 attempt to work out a stipulation to file an unredacted opposition under seal, and a publicly filed 15 redacted version, if necessary. Again, the parties are to exercise due care not to request over- 16 sealing in an abundance of caution, or desire for logistical ease, in order to protect the public’s 17 right to access court documents. The court contemplates filing the unredacted motion/opposition under seal with a 18 19 public filing of the redacted motion/opposition. IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 21 DATED: April 09, 2012 /s/ Gregory G. Hollows UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 22 23 GGH:009 24 grah2291.ord 25 26 3

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