Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Flanders v. State

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 8, 2019

ADAM FLANDERS, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF MAINE, Respondent. ADAM FLANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
MASS RESISTANCE, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING AND DISMISSING MOTION FOR REMOVAL OF PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         A plaintiff in several cases in this court, which include two petitions for writs of habeas corpus and an action for libel, slander, and assault, moves the Court to seal these cases from public access, or in the alternative, order that all references by which he could be identified be redacted from the opinions in each case. The Court denies the motion insofar as it requests that the entire court file be sealed and dismisses the motion without prejudice insofar as it requests that personal information be redacted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Adam Flanders requests that the Court “remove from publication in their entirety or otherwise seal[] from public access” opinions in the following federal cases, or the cases in their entirety:[1] Flanders v. Mass. Resistance, No. 1:12-cv-00262-JAW; Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2:12-cv-00277-JAW; Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2:12-CV-00278-JAW. Flanders v. Mass. Resistance, No. 1:12-cv-00262-JAW, Def.'s Mot. for Order for Removal of Personally Identifiable Information (ECF No. 37); Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2:12-cv-00277-JAW, Def.'s Mot. for Order for Removal of Personally Identifiable Information (ECF No. 22); Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2:12-cv-00278-JAW, Def.'s Mot. for Order for Removal of Personally Identifiable Information (ECF No. 19) (Def.'s Mot. at 2). In the alternative, Mr. Flanders requests that “all personal identifiable information be redacted from these opinions, including but not limited to my name, address, telephone number, and state identifiers, and that the Court prevent search engines from indexing these opinions.” Id.

         As the basis for his motion, Mr. Flanders states that “there are several hate groups targeting me, publishing my personal information and encouraging others to stalk and harass me . . . . They use these government website publications to locate me and further target my family and I.” Id. at 1. He says that he has received “hateful emails [and] death threats” and that these groups contacted his employer, resulting in termination of his employment. Id. Mr. Flanders contends that “the safety and private of my family and I outweighs any public interest in these District Court cases.” Id.

         A. Flanders v. Mass. Resistance, No. 1-12-cv-0062-JAW

         The first case Mr. Flanders seeks to have sealed, removed, or redacted, is a diversity suit he brought “over allegedly defamatory statements published by Brian Camenker following Mr. Flanders' dissemination of a tell-all letter in 2007 exposing the questionable activities of a Rockland, Maine based homosexual youth group[]”, which the Court dismissed as “the allegations in Mr. Flanders' Complaint are legally insufficient . . . and Mr. Flanders' additional filings . . . lack merit.” Order Affirming the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 34).

         B. Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2-12-cv-0277-JAW and Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2:12-cv-00278-JAW

         Mr. Flanders also requests that the Court seal, remove from publication, or redact his two petitions for habeas corpus challenging the validity of multiple state of Maine convictions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Def.'s Mot. at 2. The first petition challenges Mr. Flanders' August 27, 2008 convictions in Knox County Superior Court for Sexual Abuse of a Minor, 17-A M.R.S. § 254(1)(A) and for a probation violation in the same case. Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2-212-cv-278, Pet. For Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1). The second petition challenges a number of Mr. Flanders' state of Maine convictions in Knox County Superior Court for Aggravated Assault Class B, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 208(1)(A), Criminal Threatening Class C, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 209(1), Violation of a Protective Order Class D, 5 M.R.S.A. § 4659(1), and Violation of Conditions of Release Class E, 15 M.R.S. §1092(1)(A). Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2-212-cv-277, Pet. For Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1). The Court denied and dismissed both petitions. Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2-212-cv-277, J. (ECF No. 16); Flanders v. State of Maine, No. 2-12-cv-278-JAW, J. (ECF No. 19).

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         “[T]here is a strong common law presumption favoring public access to judicial proceedings and records.” In re Salem Suede, Inc., 268 F.3d 42, 45 (1st Cir. 2001); see also In re Gitto Glob. Corp., 422 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2005). That presumption is “rooted in a desire to allow the citizenry to monitor the functioning of our courts, thereby insuring quality, honesty and respect for our legal system.” Eil v. U.S. Drug Enf't Admin., 878 F.3d 392, 398 (1st Cir. 2017) (citation and internal punctuation omitted). “The courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 570, 597 (1978) (footnotes omitted). The privilege encompasses “materials on which a court relies in determining the litigants' substantive rights.” Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc., 805 F.2d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 1986). In civil cases, “the plaintiff instigates the action, and, except in the most exceptional cases, must be prepared to proceed on the public record.” Doe v. Bell Atl. Bus. Sys. Servs., Inc., 162 F.R.D. 418, 422 (D. Mass. 1995).

         Once the presumption of public access attaches, it remains possible for a court to seal a document. United States v. Kravetz, 706 F.3d 47, 59 (1st Cir. 2013). “Though the public's right of 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. Putman Inv., Inc. 147 F.3d 7, 10 (1st Cir. 1998)). “When addressing a request to unseal, a court must carefully balance the presumptive public right of access against the competing interests that are at stake in a particular case, keeping in mind that ‘only the most compelling reasons can justify non-disclosure of judicial records' that come within the scope of the common-law right of access.” Id. (quoting In re Providence Journal Co., Inc., 293 F.3d 1, 10 (1st Cir. 2002)) (quoting F.T.C. v. Standard Fin. Mgmt., 830 F.2d 404, 410 (1st Cir. 1987)).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(d) allows a court to order that a “filing be made under seal without redaction.” However, before sealing a judicial document, the First Circuit mandates that the court issue “particularized findings, ” Kravetz, 706 F.3d at 61, and that where some portions of a document may be sealed, “redaction remains a viable tool for separating this information from that which is necessary to the public's appreciation of [the court's order].” Id. at 63. In this District, to “obtain an order allowing one or more documents or pleadings to be sealed, a party [must] electronically file . . . a motion to seal together with the separate document(s) or pleading(s) sought to be sealed.” D. Me. Loc. R. 7A. The motion must also “propose specific findings as to the need for sealing and the duration the document(s) should be sealed . . ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.