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Milton Hershey School v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

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  1. Court Access

Case Number: 665 CD 2019

Court: Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Client: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Application to Intervene and Unseal Filed: Dec. 4, 2019

Background: On Nov. 4, 2019, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion and order in Milton Hershey School v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, a case that addressed the question of whether the private boarding school was subject to the jurisdiction of the agency charged with enforcing state anti-discrimination laws.

Up until the court issued its opinion, which vacated a PHRC order, the case had been litigated entirely in secret. The opinion was the first and only judicial record that was not sealed by the court.

Represented by attorneys from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Ballard Spahr LLP, The Philadelphia Inquirer sought the release of sealed documents from the case.

Quote: “This extreme secrecy has deprived The Inquirer and other members of the press and the public of information about a newsworthy lawsuit that is unquestionably of public interest, and it violates the public’s constitutional and common law rights of access to judicial records and proceedings,” attorneys wrote in The Inquirer’s application to intervene and unseal the court documents.

Update: In a Feb. 11, 2020, opinion on The Inquirer’s motion to unseal, Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer issued a detailed, multi-part order unsealing the majority of documents from the case.

Co-counsel: Michael Berry and Paul Safier of Ballard Spahr LLP

Filings:

2020-12-04: Application to intervene and unseal

2020-02-11: Opinion