Filing 16

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, Granting 14 Motion to Seal Document. Signed by Judge Renee Marie Bumb on 10/6/17. (js)

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY CAMDEN VICINAGE WADIS PHILLIPS, : : : : : : : : : : : Petitioner, v. N.J. STATE PAROLE BOARD, Respondent. Civil No. 16-5446 (RMB) MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION TO SEAL This matter comes before the Court upon Respondents’ Motion to File Confidential Documents Under Seal Pursuant to L. Civ. R. 5.3 ((“Mot. to Seal”) (ECF No. 14.) Petitioner did not oppose the motion. On September 7, 2016, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the May 2014 decision of the New Jersey Parole Board, denying parole and setting a ten-year future eligibility term. Respondent filed an Answer to the (Pet., ECF No. 1.) Petition, relevant portions of the state court record. including the (Answer, ECF No. 13.) Respondent has requested that the Court file under seal Petitioner’s medical presentence summary, a investigation psychological report, evaluation dated pre-parole April 29, 2013, a confidential memorandum from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, a document entitled “Confidential Reports Considered,” dated February 19, 2014, and a confidential addendum, dated June 5, 2014. (Declaration of Christopher C. Josephson, ECF No. 14-1, ¶5.) Local Civil Rule 5.3(c)(2) and (3) requires the court to consider, upon a motion to seal, (1) the nature of the materials or proceedings at issue; (2) the legitimate private or public interests which defined and sought is warrant serious not the injury granted, relief that and sought; would (3) (3) result why a if the clearly the relief less restrictive are Petitioner’s alternative to relief is not available. The nature of the materials at issue presentence report, Petitioner’s medical records, and documents discussing Petitioner’s medical records. Under New Jersey state law, confidential from third parties. presentence reports are State v. DeGeorge, 274 A.2d 593 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1971). The Supreme Court of New Jersey has determined there is a public interest in maintaining confidentiality of presentence reports from State v. Kunz, 55 A.2d 895, 902 (N.J. 1969). third parties. Respondent will make a copy available to Petitioner upon his request, but the report is otherwise confidential and no alternative is available to sealing the presentence report. 2 Petitioner has an interest in the privacy of his medical records. Doe v. Delie, 257 F.3d 309, 315 (3d Cir. 2001) (“There can be no question that ... medical records, which may contain intimate facts of a personal nature, are well within the ambit of materials entitled to privacy protection”) (quoting United States v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 638 F.2d 570, 577 (3d Cir. 1980)). Additionally, the State has enacted legislation prohibiting disclosure of an inmate’s mental health evaluations to an inmate, information under would be circumstances harmful to where the the inmate, release jeopardize of the safety of others, compromise the privacy of others or have a substantial impact on the orderly operation of the correctional facility. See N.J.A.C. 10A:22-2.7(d). Therefore, both parties’ interests warrant sealing Petitioner’s medical records. Petitioner’s right to medical privacy would be injured if his medical docket. records The are State’s publicly interest available in the on safe the Court’s operation of correctional facilities is also compromised by disclosure of an inmate’s mental health evaluation. that there is no less restrictive Finally, the Court finds alternative to sealing Plaintiff’s medical records, and the documents discussing those records. IT IS therefore on this 6th day of October 2017; 3 ORDERED that the motion to seal (ECF No. 14) is GRANTED, and it is further ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court shall maintain under seal the confidential documents (Cra1-Cra33) contained in Exhibit “B” to the Declaration of Christopher C. Josephson (ECF No. 15); and it is further ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall serve this Memorandum and Order on Petitioner by regular mail. s/Renée Marie Bumb RENÉE MARIE BUMB United States District Judge 4

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