ROCKEMORE v. CITY OF THOMASTON
ORDER granting 6 Motion to Seal Document; granting 6 Motion for Protective Order. Plaintiff is DIRECTED to refile an Amended Summons with Defendant Tobins home address redacted Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE C ASHLEY ROYAL on 12/22/16 (lap)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
PHILLIP TOBIN (in both his
individual and official capacity as
a Thomaston Police Officer), and
CITY OF THOMASTON,
ORDER ON MOTION TO SEAL AND FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
Before the Court is Defendant City of Thomaston’s Motion to Seal and for
Protective Order [Doc. 6]. Defendant City of Thomaston requests the Court seal the
Summons [Doc. 4] and Plaintiff’s Motion for Alternative Service [Doc. 5], both of which
identify Defendant Phillip Tobin’s home address. Further, Defendant City requests the
Court direct Plaintiff to refile an Amended Summons and an Amended Motion for
Alternative Service with Defendant Tobin’s home address redacted. Plaintiff initially
opposed the Motion.1 After Defendant Tobin waived service, however, Plaintiff agreed
to withdraw the Motion for Alternative Service and consented to the Motion to Seal.2
For the reasons set forth below, Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED.
It is well‐settled in the Eleventh Circuit that “[t]he operations of the courts and
the judicial conduct of judges are matters of utmost public concern,” and the integrity of
the judiciary is maintained by the public’s right of access to court proceedings.3 “Once a
matter is brought before a court for resolution, it is no longer solely the parties’ case, but
also the public’s case.”4 Accordingly, “there is a presumptive right of public access to
pretrial motions of a non‐discovery nature, whether preliminary or dispositive, and the
material filed in connection therewith.”5 However, “[t]he common law right of access
may be overcome by a showing of good cause, which requires balancing the asserted
right of access against the other party’s interest in keeping the information
confidential.”6 In that regard, “[a] partyʹs privacy or proprietary interest in information
sometimes overcomes the interest of the public in accessing the information.”7
Similarly, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(e)(1) authorizes a district court to require
redaction of information upon a showing of good cause.8
Here, Defendant City represents that Defendant Tobin faces “very real threats”
as a former police officer, “especially given the recent fervor against law enforcement.”9
Such threats are particularly serious because this case arises from Defendant Tobin’s
alleged excessive use of force while arresting Plaintiff. Thus, the Court finds Defendant
Romero v. Drummond Co., 480 F.3d 1234, 1245 (11th Cir. 2007).
Brown v. Advantage Engineering, Inc., 960 F.2d 1013, 1016 (11th Cir. 1992).
5 Romero, 480 F.3d at 1246 (internal quotation omitted).
8 FED. R. CIV. P. 5.2(e)(1).
9 [Doc. 6‐1] at 2.
Tobin’s privacy interest in his home address overcomes the presumption in favor of
public access, and good cause exists to seal the Summons and Motion for Alternative
Service.10 Accordingly, Defendant’s Motion [Doc. 6] is HEREBY GRANTED; it is
ORDERED that the Summons [Doc. 4] and Motion for Alternative Service [Doc. 5] be
sealed; and Plaintiff is DIRECTED to refile an Amended Summons with Defendant
Tobin’s home address redacted.11
SO ORDERED, this 22nd day of December, 2016.
S/ C. Ashley Royal
C. ASHLEY ROYAL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
See Kamakana v. City and Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1182‐84 (9th Cir. 2006) (affirming magistrate
judgeʹs decision to seal documents containing officers’ home addresses to avoid “expos[ing] the officers
and their families to harm or identity theft”); Reaves v. Jewell, No. DKC–14–2245, 2014 WL 6698717, at *2
(D. Md. Nov. 26, 2014) (unpublished decision) (finding “[p]rotecting the safety of law enforcement
qualifies as good cause” to seal summons); Aros v. Robinson, No. CV–04–306–PHX–SRB (LOA), 2010 WL
3025515, at *1 (D. Ariz. July 30, 2010) (unpublished decision) (finding good cause to seal documents
containing home addresses of prison officials).
11 Having withdrawn the Motion for Alternative Service, Plaintiff need not refile it.
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