United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO SEAL
Fashing United State Magistrate Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Seal (Doc. 108), in which plaintiffs ask the Court to seal
their Supplemental Brief in Support of Their Motion to Compel
(Doc. 107). Defendants did not file a response to the Motion
to Seal. Defendant GEICO did, however, file a Response in
Opposition to Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief in Support
of their Motion to Compel, which it filed under seal. Doc.
109. Plaintiffs filed a Response, also under seal. Doc. 112.
For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the motion to
seal in part.
well-settled that federal courts recognize a common-law right
of access to judicial records. Nixon v. Warner
Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597-99 (1978);
Crystal Grower's Corp. v. Dobbins, 616 F.2d 458,
461 (10th Cir.1980). This right derives from the public's
interest “in understanding disputes that are presented
to a public forum for resolution” and is intended to
“assure that the courts are fairly run and judges are
honest.” Crystal Grower's Corp., 616 F.2d
at 461. This public right of access, however, is not
absolute. Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598. As federal
district courts have supervisory control over their own
records and files, the decision whether to allow access to
those records is left to the court's sound discretion.
Crystal Grower's Corp., 616 F.2d at
461. In exercising that discretion, the court must consider
the relevant facts and circumstances of the case and balance
the public's right of access, which is presumed
paramount, with the parties' interests in sealing the
record or some portion of the record. Id. Documents
should be sealed “only on the basis of articulable
facts known to the court, not on the basis of unsupported
hypothesis or conjecture.” Hagestad v.
Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995).
seeking to overcome the presumption of public access to
judicial documents bears the burden of showing “some
significant interest that outweighs the presumption.”
Mann v. Boatright, 477 F.3d 1140, 1149 (10th Cir.
2007); Colony Ins. Co. v. Burke, 698 F.3d 1222, 1241
(10th Cir. 2012). “Whether a trial court exercises
sound discretion will be based on the facts and circumstances
of the individual case and the weighing of the parties'
interests.” Riker v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons,
315 F.App'x 752, 755 (10th Cir. 2009).
keeping with the paramount right of public access, this Court
requires a party moving for permission to file a particular
document under seal to demonstrate a private interest
sufficient to justify the sealing of the document. That the
parties have agreed a document should be filed under seal is
not sufficient; the party seeking to file a document under
seal must establish that his or her interest in keeping the
documents private outweighs the public's right of access
to judicial records.
instant case, the parties agreed to a Stipulated
Confidentiality Order (Doc. 103). The confidentiality order
does not entitle the parties to automatically seal
confidential information filed with the Court. Doc. 103 at 4.
Instead, the confidentiality order directs the party
submitting the confidential information with the Court to
file a motion to seal. Id. The party designating the
information as confidential must then file “a
declaration identifying the confidential information
contained in the document and stating whether the designated
material is sealable, and if so why, within fourteen (14)
days of the filing of the motion to file under seal.”
Id. “If the designating party does not file a
responsive declaration within the fourteen-day time period,
the submitting party may file the document in the public
record no earlier than four days, and no later than ten days,
after the motion is denied.” Id. Plaintiffs
filed the required motion to seal on August 8, 2017. Doc.
108. Plaintiffs sought concurrence from defendants, but did
not receive a reply. Id. at 1. Defendants did not
file a declaration within 14 days, as required by the
defendants' failure to file the declaration, the Court
finds that some of the documents filed with the Court are
clearly subject to the confidentiality order and should
remain sealed. The Court rules that the Attachment (Exhibit
A-E) filed with the supplemental motion to compel (Doc. 107)
contains confidential information, and orders it to remain
sealed. The Court, however, finds that the parties have not
overcome “the presumption of public access to judicial
documents” sufficient to justify the sealing of the
motion, response, and reply.
the Court orders the Clerk of Court to unseal the following
documents on September 19, 2019:
• Plaintiffs' Supplemental Brief in Support of Their
Motion to Compel (Doc. 107)
• Plaintiffs' Motion to Seal (Doc. 108)
• Defendant GEICO's Response in Opposition to
Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief in Support of Their Motion
to Compel (Doc. 109)
• Plaintiff's Supplemental Reply Brief in Support of
Their Motion to Compel (Doc. 112).
Court grants plaintiff's motion to seal the Attachment
(Exhibit A-E) (Doc. 107-1). This document will remain sealed.