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  1. Court Access

Case Number: FD 2023-208

Court: Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Pennsylvania

Client: The Meadville Tribune

Motion to Intervene and Unseal Filed: Sept. 27, 2023

Background: On July 25, 2023, during a routine review of judicial filings in the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Prothonotary’s office, Meadville Tribune reporter Keith Gushard came across a sealed divorce case that did not include the names of the parties.

Months later, Gushard asked the Crawford County Prothonotary to obtain access to a copy of an order sealing the docket information for the divorce matter. County officials declined to disclose the record and informed him that because the docket is sealed in its entirety a petition would have to be filed with the court to request that the sealing order be unsealed.

On behalf of Gushard, Paula Knudsen Burke, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney for Pennsylvania, filed a motion to intervene and unseal the judicial records in the case. Burke argues that the common law and the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions afford the press and public a presumptive right of access to this information in civil cases. The motion requests that the court enter an order directing the Clerk of Courts to unseal the docket in this case and immediately unseal all other judicial records in the proceeding.

Quote: “Access to docket sheets simultaneously enhances the integrity of judicial proceedings and increases the appearance of fairness in the courts,” Burke argues in a brief in support of The Meadville Tribune’s motion to intervene and unseal.

Update: On Oct. 26, 2023, the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas ordered the unsealing of all records filed in the divorce case.


2023-09-27: The Meadville Tribune’s motion to intervene and unseal

2023-09-27: Brief in support of The Meadville Tribune’s motion to intervene and unseal

2023-10-05: Scheduling order

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