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Snitko v. United States

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  1. Court Access

Court: U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division

Date Filed: Aug. 2, 2022

Background: In April 2021, FBI agents raided U.S. Private Vaults, in Beverly Hills, California, and seized the contents of hundreds of safety deposit boxes. Customers of the storage facility sued the federal government for violating their Fourth Amendment rights, drawing coverage from the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets.

To substantiate their allegations of official misconduct, the customers filed — as exhibits to their trial brief — transcripts of depositions with government witnesses that they maintain “contain information important to the disposition of this case and to the broader public’s interest in the conduct of the government.” Those exhibits, however, have been filed under seal at the insistence of the federal government.

Our Position: The Reporters Committee and the Los Angeles Times urge the district court to unseal the exhibits.

  • The public has a substantial interest in access to judicial records that will inform this court’s disposition of allegations of government misconduct.
  • The public has a common law and First Amendment right to access the exhibits to plaintiffs’ briefs, which the government cannot overcome.

Quote: “Maintaining the transcripts under seal … would undermine the public’s entitlement to oversee both the judicial and executive branches.”