C. Pretrial motions and records

Overview

The Supreme Court has not directly addressed the presumption of access to pretrial records in civil cases, but the Ninth Circuit noted that “the public and press have a first amendment right of access to pretrial documents in general.” Associated Press v. District Court, 705 F.2d 1143, 1145 (9th Cir. 1983). Likewise, in Under Seal v. Under Seal, 27 F.3d 564, 564 (4th Cir. 1994) (unpublished), the Fourth Circuit found that a lower court acted within its discretion in “refusing to impose a permanent seal on a qui tam complaint” in part because of the “long-established common law right of access to judicial records filed in court.” And in Publicker Industries, Inc. v. Cohen, 733 F.2d 1059, 1073 (3rd Cir. 1984), the court found that “[i]n order for a reviewing court to uphold the trial court’s decision to exclude the public from proceedings or transcripts of proceedings, the record must demonstrate ‘an overriding interest based on findings that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.’” (citation omitted).

6th Cir.