United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION TO REDACT ELECTRONIC
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Leave to Redact Electronic Transcript. (ECF No. 73.) Through
the motion, Defendant requests that the Court permit the
redaction of the trial transcript to remove or seal reference
to certain documents, and to refer to some of Defendant's
employees or former employees by their initials. Plaintiffs
do not object to the motion provided any redaction or seal
does not unnecessarily complicate the preparation of the
parties' post-trial briefs. As explained below, the Court
denies the motion.
motion is in essence a request to seal specific information
contained in the trial transcript. When a court considers a
motion to seal, the court must be mindful that the law
recognizes a presumption "of public access to judicial
proceedings and records." United States v.
Kravetz, 706 F.3d 47, 52 (1st Cir. 2013). As the First
Circuit has acknowledged, however, "[t]hough the
public's right to access is vibrant, it is not
unfettered. Important countervailing interests can, in given
instances, overwhelm the usual presumption and defeat
access." Id. at 59 (quoting Siedle v.
Putnam Inv., Inc., 147 F.3d 7, 10 (1st Cir. 1998)). In
its assessment of a request to seal, the Court is required to
"carefully balance the presumptive public right of
access against the competing interests that are at stake in a
particular case." Id.
Defendant asks the Court to redact or seal information that
was presented at a public trial as evidence and thus could
potentially be relevant to the judgment the Court will issue.
While the Court recognizes the parties might have designated
some of the information as confidential during the discovery
process, under the confidentiality order in this case, the
parties' designation does not control the use of the
information at trial. (ECF No. 41.) As the Sixth Circuit
[T]here is a stark difference between so-called
"protective orders" entered pursuant to the
discovery provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26,
on the one hand, and orders to seal court records, on the
other. Discovery concerns the parties' exchange of
information that might or might not be relevant to their
case. Secrecy is fine at the discovery stage, before the
material enters the judicial record.
At the adjudication stage, however, very different
considerations apply. The line between these two stages,
discovery and adjudicative, is crossed when the parties place
material in the court record. Unlike information merely
exchanged between the parties, the public has a strong
interest in obtaining the information contained in the court
Shane Grp., Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of
Michigan, No. 15-1544, 2016 WL 3163073, at *3 (6th Cir.
June 7, 2016) (internal citations and quotation marks
fact that the information was presented un-redacted in a
public trial is also significant. The transcript is intended
to be a complete and accurate account of the evidence
presented at the public trial. The redaction or seal of
information, after the conclusion of the trial, would be
inconsistent with that objective. When compared to the public
interest in access to an accurate account of the evidence
presented at a public trial, which evidence the Court will
consider in its deliberations, the interest asserted by
Defendant is less compelling. See In re Gitto Glob.
Corp., 442 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting FTC v.
Standard Fin. Mgmt. Corp., 830F.2d 404, 410 (1st Cir.
1987) ("only the most compelling reasons can justify
non-disclosure of judicial records").
short, because the information was presented as evidence at a
public trial, and given that the public interest in access to
judicial decisions and the record upon which the decisions
are based is of "paramount" significance,
F.T.C. v. Standard Fin. Mgmt. Corp., 830 F.2d 404,
410 (1st Cir. 1987), the Court is not inclined to seal the
information. In other words, the circumstances in this case
militate against the seal or redaction of the information
on the foregoing analysis, the Court denies Defendant's
Motion for Leave to Redact ...