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Delaware Coalition for Open Government v. Strine

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  1. Court Access

Under a recent Delaware law, sitting Chancery Court judges may serve as arbitrators in secret arbitration cases between corporations. The Delaware Coalition for Open Government (DCOG) sued the Chancery Court judges to block the scheme, arguing that it violated First Amendment rights of public access to judicial proceedings. The U.S. District Court in Delaware struck down the law as unconstitutional, holding that the secret arbitration scheme was tantamount to a civil trial and public rights of access applied. On appeal, the Reporters Committee wrote an amicus brief in support of affirming the District Court’s decision. The Delaware arbitration scheme is unique in allowing sitting judges to oversee high-value arbitrations using Chancery Court rules. The scheme creates proceedings so similar to a civil trial that public rights of access must apply.

Delaware Coalition for Open Gov v. Strine