Redmond v. San Jose Police Department et al

Filing 174

ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE 166 ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL. Signed by Judge Beth Labson Freeman on 1/9/2018. (blflc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/9/2018)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 SAN JOSE DIVISION 7 8 BLAIR REDMOND, Plaintiff, 9 v. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 14-cv-02345-BLF SAN JOSE POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFF’S ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL Defendants. 12 13 Before the Court is Plaintiff Blair Redmond’s (“Redmond”) administrative motion to file 14 15 under seal portions of Redmond’s Opposition to Defendants’ Motion in Limine No. 2 and Exhibit 16 A in support of that opposition. See ECF 166. For the reasons stated below, the motion to seal is 17 DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. 18 19 I. LEGAL STANDARD There is a “strong presumption in favor of access” to judicial records. Kamakana v. City & 20 Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. 21 Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). A party seeking to seal judicial records bears the 22 burden of overcoming this presumption by articulating “compelling reasons supported by specific 23 factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring 24 disclosure.” Id. at 1178-79. Compelling reasons for sealing court files generally exist when such 25 “‘court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to 26 gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade 27 secrets.” Id. (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). However, 28 “[t]he mere fact that the production of records may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, 1 incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal its 2 records.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Ultimately, “[w]hat constitutes a ‘compelling reason’ is 3 ‘best left to the sound discretion of the trial court.’” Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrslyer Grp., LLC, 4 809 F.3d 1092, 1097 (9th Cir. 2016). “Despite this strong preference for public access, [the Ninth Circuit has] carved out an 5 6 exception,” id. at 1097, for judicial records attached to motions that are “tangentially related to the 7 merits of a case,” id. at 1101. Parties moving to seal such records need only make a 8 “particularized showing” under the “good cause” standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9 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 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Rule 79-5, which requires, inter alia, that a sealing request be “narrowly tailored to seek sealing 12 only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b) (emphasis added). Where the submitting party 13 seeks to file under seal a document designated confidential by another party, the burden of 14 articulating compelling reasons for sealing is placed on the designating party. Id. 79-5(e). 15 II. DISCUSSION 16 The Court has reviewed Redmond’s sealing motion and the declaration of Patricia L. 17 Peden in support thereof. According to the motion and declaration, a few sentences of Redmond’s 18 opposition to Defendants’ motion in limine number 2, as well as the entire exhibit from which it 19 cites from, should be sealed because they contain information from an Internal Affairs 20 Investigation looking into actions by Officer Pfiefer in a separate incident. See ECF 166 (“Mot.”); 21 Peden Decl. iso Motion to Seal ¶ 4, ECF 166-1. The only reason provided for sealing is that 22 Defendants had designated the Internal Affairs Investigation as “Attorney’s Eyes Only” under the 23 Protective Order in this case. See Mot. at 2. 24 Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 79-5(d)(1)(A), “[r]eference to a stipulation or protective order 25 that allows a party to designate certain documents as confidential is not sufficient to establish that 26 a document, or portions thereof, are sealable.” Rather, if the sole basis of a party’s request to seal 27 is that the document at issue was previously designated as confidential or subject to a protective 28 order, then the procedures detailed in Civil L.R. 79-5(e) apply. See Civ. L. R. 79-5(d)(1)(A). 2 1 Where the moving party requests sealing of documents because they have been designated 2 confidential by another party under a protective order, the burden of establishing compelling 3 reasons for sealing is placed on the designating party. Civ. L.R. 79-5(e). “Within 4 days of the 4 filing of the Administrative Motion to File Under Seal, the Designating Party must file a 5 declaration . . . establishing that all of the designated material is sealable.” Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1). 6 “If the Designating Party does not file a responsive declaration . . . and the Administrative Motion 7 to File Under Seal is denied, the Submitting Party may file the document in the public record no 8 earlier than 4 days, and no later than 10 days, after the motion is denied.” Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(2). 9 Here, Defendants are the Designating Party, as they have designated the Internal Affairs Investigation as “Attorney’s Eyes Only” under the protective order, and Redmond has not 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 provided any other basis for the Court to seal the document or references to it in her opposition. 12 Four (4) days have passed and Defendants have not filed a declaration establishing that all of the 13 designated material is sealable. Therefore, Redmond’s administrative motion to file under seal is 14 DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. In light of the upcoming holiday, Defendants may file a 15 declaration in compliance with Civ. L.R. 79-5(e) on or before January 16, 2018. If Defendants 16 have not filed a declaration by that time, Redmond may file her opposition to Defendants’ motion 17 in limine number 2 and Exhibit A to that opposition in the public record no earlier than January 18 17, 2018 and no later than January 19, 2018. 19 20 21 22 Dated: January 9, 2018 ______________________________________ BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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