Curtis v. Shah
OPINION AND ORDER: the Court hereby DENIES the 1 Petition to Seal. The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to UNSEAL this cause of action and to REMOVE the ex parte designation from Docket Entries 1 and 2. Signed by Magistrate Judge Paul R Cherry on 6/2/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(jss)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
NIRAV D. SHAH,
CAUSE NO. 1:17-CV-234-TLS-PRC
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on a Petition to Seal [DE 1], filed ex parte by Plaintiff Jerome
Curtis on May 31, 2017. On the same date, Curtis also filed an ex parte Motion to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis [DE 2].
Northern District of Indiana Local Rule 5-3 provides, “No 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).
“What happens in the federal courts is presumptively open to public scrutiny.” Hicklin Eng’g, L.C.
v. Bartell, 439 F.3d 346, 348 (7th Cir. 2006). “The public has a legitimate interest in the record
compiled in a legal proceeding because the public pays for the courts,” but this interest may be
overridden “if there is good cause for sealing part of the record.” Forst v. Smithkline Beecham Corp.,
602 F. Supp. 2d 960, 974 (E.D. Wis. 2009) (citing Citizens First Nat’l Bank of Princeton v.
Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 944-45 (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” by the Court. Hicklin, 439 F.3d at 348. A litigant must justify the claim of
secrecy, analyzing the applicable legal criteria. Citizens First, 178 F.3d at 945; see also, e.g., Cnty
Materials Corp. v. Allan Block Corp., 502 F.3d 730, 740 (7th Cir. 2007); Baxter Int’l v. Abbott Lab.,
297 F.3d 544, 547 (7th Cir. 2002); Union Oil Co. v. Leavell, 220 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2000). In
Hicklin, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reminded that it has “insisted that litigation be
conducted in public to the maximum extent consistent with respecting trade secrets, the identities
of undercover agents, and other facts that should be held in confidence.” 439 F.3d at 348 (internal
Curtis states that “[t]his Bill in Equity concerns extraordinary matters of a[n] express trust,
its trust documents being special and private, restricted and confidential, proprietary and privileged
to be seen only by the Chancellor in Camera,” and “[t]his Bill in Equity is to be sealed at the demand
of the Orator, to be filed and heard by the Chancellor in Camera to the exclusion of the public and
the press, not to be reviewed on any public website, government or private, including ‘Pacer,’ and
never to be for publication.” (Pet. at 1, ECF No. 1). Curtis argues that proceeding in this matter ex
parte would protect the interests of all parties, not commingle his rights with the privileges of
“enemies,” secure his due process rights, and keep the public from being alarmed.
Curtis’s reasons for seeking to litigate his case ex parte and under seal do not overcome the
presumption that litigation should be done in public. The public interest would not be protected if
Curtis’s petition were granted. Curtis provides no reason to believe that his rights would be
commingled or not secured if he were made to litigate in public. Further, Curtis has pointed to no
authority saying that alarm to the public is a reason to withdraw litigation from the public view.
Even if this is a proper consideration, based on the statement of the case as presented in the Petition,
the probability of the public being alarmed is minimal. Curtis has identified no authorizing statute,
Court rule, or Court order that would permit this case to be maintained under seal or that would
permit the filed documents to be maintained ex parte. Curtis has not justified his claim of secrecy.
There is no good cause to maintain this case under seal or to maintain Docket Entries 1 and 2 ex
Therefore, the Court hereby DENIES the Petition to Seal [DE 1]. The Court DIRECTS the
Clerk of Court to UNSEAL this cause of action and to REMOVE the ex parte designation from
Docket Entries 1 and 2.
So ORDERED this 2nd day of June, 2017.
s/ Paul R. Cherry
MAGISTRATE JUDGE PAUL R. CHERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Plaintiff Jerome Curtis, pro se.
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