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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Spierer request that judge seal information in federal lawsuit denied

Updating these ILB posts from Jan. 30th and Feb. 12th, 2014, both headed "Parents of Lauren Spierer ask judge to seal information in lawsuit," United State Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker has now issued a 6-page order that concludes:

If Plaintiffs have any hope of getting the Court to approve a protective order limiting the manner in which discovery materials may be handled and disclosed, Plaintiffs must correct the deficiencies noted in this order. Thus, Plaintiffs’ motion for a protective order [Filing No. 51] is denied without prejudice.
More from the order:
Defendant Corey Rossman accurately lists the deficiencies found in Plaintiffs’ proposed protective order: (1) it does not identify a legitimate category of confidential information to be protected; (2) it does not properly describe the information to be protected; (3) it does not include language allowing the public to challenge the Party’s sealing of particular documents; and (4) it does not create a mechanism to ensure that good cause exists for sealing documents filed with the Court from the public. As Rossman makes apparent, Plaintiffs’ proposed protective order is no model of clarity.

Rather, the proposed protective order overdesignates material to be labeled confidential. For starters, Plaintiffs describe confidential information as “including, among other things,” certain broad categories of information. Plaintiffs seek to designate material as confidential information so as to prevent harm to parties, nonparties, and ongoing criminal investigations. However, Plaintiffs fail to explain how such material is under a legitimate category of confidential information. Moreover, they do not properly describe what type of material would harm parties, nonparties, and ongoing criminal investigations, or how this material would cause harm. * * *

The protective order is also vague as to the type of information Plaintiffs seek to protect. Absent clear language, the parties cannot determine in good faith what information qualifies as confidential. This is especially important because a confidential designation limits what parties can do with the documents. Thus, Plaintiffs must more narrowly and more convincingly identify the need to make certain documents confidential. Moreover, the proposed order must expressly create a separate mechanism for the parties to seek to file material under seal. * * *

Plaintiffs’ argue that the protective order is necessary to ensure an impartial jury. As Defendant Jason Rosenbaum correctly asserts, it is unlikely that discovery material would taint the jury pool, given that this information will likely be used as evidence during the trial. Any potential prejudice can be fully explored through voir dire and, if necessary, the Court can provide cautionary instructions to the jury.

ILB: Note the long list of counsel at the end of today's order.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 19, 2014 04:14 PM
Posted to Ind Fed D.Ct. Decisions