B. Dockets

Overview

The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the constitutional presumption of access applies to civil or criminal court dockets. However, federal appellate courts have recognized that the right does attach, with one ruling that “the press and public possess a qualified First Amendment right of access to docket sheets” in part because “the ability of the public and press to attend civil and criminal cases would be merely theoretical if the information provided by docket sheets were inaccessible.” The Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino, 380 F.3d 83, 86, 93 (2nd Cir. 2004). Likewise, in U.S. v. Valenti, 987 F.2d 708, 715 (11th Cir. 1993), the court found that the district court’s “maintenance of a dual-docketing system is an unconstitutional infringement on the public and press’s qualified right of access to criminal proceedings.”

6th Cir.