A. In general

Overview

The Supreme Court has recognized a common-law right “to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.”Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978) (footnote omitted). The Third Circuit agreed, finding that in both civil and criminal cases “the existence of a common law right of access to … inspect judicial records is beyond dispute.” Publicker Indus., Inc. v. Cohen, 733 F.2d 1059, 1066 (3rd Cir. 1984). Many lower courts have recognized a constitutional right to court records as well. For example, the Second Circuit noted that it was following other circuits in “constru[ing] the constitutional right of access to apply to written documents submitted in connection with judicial proceedings that themselves implicate the right of access.” In re New York Times Co., 828 F.2d 110, 114 (2nd Cir. 1987) (citations omitted); see also In re Providence Journal Co., 293 F.3d 1, 10 (1st Cir. 2002) (“this constitutional [access] right … extends to documents and kindred materials submitted in connection with the prosecution and defense of criminal proceedings”) (quoting Globe Newspaper Co. v. Pokaski, 868 F.2d 497, 502 (1st Cir.1989)); Associated Press v. District Court, 705 F.2d 1143, 1145 (9th Cir. 1983) (“the public and press have a first amendment right of access to pretrial documents in general”).

6th Cir.