United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
OPINION AND ORDER
D. CLARKE United States Magistrate Judge
case comes before the Court on the Hoyal defendants'
Motion (#218) for Leave to File Under Seal A Motion for
Sanctions. The motion for leave to file under seal is
unopposed. For the reasons below, the motion (#218) is
denied. The Hoyal defendants are instructed to file their
Motion for Sanctions electronically, in accordance with the
Local Rules of Civil Procedure.
courts have recognized a "general right to inspect and
copy public records and documents, including judicial records
and documents." Kamakana v. City & Cty. of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589,
597 & n. 7 (1978)). This right is justified by the
interest of citizens in "keep[ing] a watchful eye on the
workings of public agencies." Id. at 598. Such
vigilance is aided by the efforts of newspapers to
"publish information concerning the operation of
government." Id. Unless a particular court
record is one "traditionally kept secret,
" a "strong presumption in favor of
access" is the starting point. Foltz v. State Farm
Mitt. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir.
2003) (citing Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430,
1434 (9th Cir.1995)). A party seeking to seal a judicial
record then bears the burden of overcoming this strong
presumption by meeting the "compelling reasons"
standard. Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1135. That is, the
party must "articulate[ ] compelling reasons supported
by specific factual findings, " id. (citing
San Jose Mercury News, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 187
F.3d 1096, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 1999)), that outweigh the
general history of access and the public policies favoring
disclosure, such as the " 'public interest in
understanding the judicial process.'"
Hagestad, 49 F.3d at 1434 (quoting EEOC v.
Erection Co.. 900 F.2d 168, 170 (9th Cir. 1990)). In
turn, the court must "conscientiously balance[ ] the
competing interests" of the public and the party who
seeks to keep certain judicial records secret.
Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1135.
general, "compelling reasons" sufficient to
outweigh the public's interest in disclosure and justify
sealing court records exist when such "court files might
have become a vehicle for improper purposes, " such as
the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public
scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade
secrets. Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598; accord Valley
Broadcasting Co., 798 F.2d at 1294. The mere fact that
the production of records may lead to a litigant's
embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further
litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal
its records. Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1136.
the Ninth Circuit has held that a non-party's reliance on
a blanket protective order is unreasonable and is not a
"compelling reason" that rebuts the presumption of
access. Id. at 1138; Beckman Indus., Inc. v.
Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 475-76 (9th Cir.1992)
(noting that "[t]he extent to which a party can rely on
a protective order should depend on the extent to which the
order induced the party to allow discovery" and that
reliance on a ''stipulated ... blanket protective
order" does not justify sealing court records).
the Court treats judicial records attached to dispositive
motions differently from records attached to non-dispositive
motions. Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180. Those who seek
to maintain the secrecy of documents attached to dispositive
motions must meet the high threshold of showing that
"compelling reasons" support secrecy. Id.
(citing Foltz. 331 F.3d at 1136). A "good
cause" showing under Rule 26(c) will suffice to keep
sealed records attached to non-dispositive motions.
Id. However, the Court has broad discretion to
consider all of the competing interests, including the
presumption of public access and whether or not a party has
made a particularized showing of harm or specific prejudice
that will result from unsealing such records.
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1187 (affirming the district
court's order to unseal documents attached to
case, the Court has reviewed the motions, briefs, and
exhibits for the Motion for Leave to File Under Seal and the
Motion for Sanctions, which was submitted conventionally for
review, but not docketed. A motion for sanctions is not
"dispositive, " however the exhibits that the
defendants seek to keep sealed are included for a purpose,
which the Court can only assume is an attempt to call into
question the substantive legitimacy of this litigation. Thus,
while the motion is not dispositive, the merits of the case
appear to be brought into question by documents at issue.
Therefore, while the defendants need not show a
"compelling reason, " the Court will consider the
strong presumption in favor of public access when it
evaluates whether the defendants have shown "good
cause" under Rule 26(c).
Court respects the parties' and third party's
''Confidential" designation of the exhibits
pursuant to the protective order. However, after reviewing
the exhibits at issue, the Court does not find any privilege
that applies, nor does it appear that any potential for
embarrassment, harassment, public scandal, incrimination, or
other possible negative impact might result from unsealing
such documents. On balance, the Court finds that the Hoyal
defendants have failed to make a particularized showing of
harm to meet even the lower standard of "good
cause" under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). The
motion (#218) is denied.
Hoyal defendants are directed to file their motion
electronically in accordance with the Local Rules of Civil
 Ninth Circuit case law has identified
two categories of documents that fall in this category: grand
jury transcripts and warrant materials in the midst of a
pre-indictment investigation. Times Mirror Co. v. United
States,873 F.2d 1210, 1219 ...