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B. Dockets

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  • 10th Circuit

    The Tenth Circuit recognizes a “qualified First Amendment right of access to docket sheets.” United States v. Mendoza, 698 F.3d 1303, 1306 (10th Cir. 2012). The Court states that “dockets are open to public inspection” and there has been a “long pedigree” that “dockets are public records.” Id.

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  • 2nd Circuit

    The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the constitutional presumption of access applies to civil or criminal court dockets. However, the Second Circuit has recognized that the right does attach, with one ruling that “the press and public possess a qualified First Amendment right of access to docket sheets” in part because “the ability of the public and press to attend civil and criminal cases would be merely theoretical if the information provided by docket sheets were inaccessible.” Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino, 380 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 2004).

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  • 4th Circuit

    The Fourth Circuit has held that the public has a First Amendment right of access to docket sheets in civil matters. See Doe v. Pub. Citizen, 749 F.3d 246 (4th Cir. 2014) (noting “a more repugnant aspect to depriving the public and press access to docket sheets: no one can challenge closure of a document or proceeding that is itself a secret.”); see also In re Application of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press To Unseal Criminal Prosecution of Julian Assange, No. 1:18-mc-37, 2019 WL 366869, *3 n.3 (E.D. Va. Jan. 30, 2019) (“[T]he ability of the public and press to attend civil and criminal cases would be merely theoretical if the information provided by docket sheets were inaccessible.”) (quoting Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino, 380 F.3d 83, 93-94 (2d Cir. 2004)); Bankers Tr. Co. v. Mallis, 435 U.S. 381, 384 n.4 (1978) (“[T]he keeping of a civil docket pursuant to Rule 79 fulfills a public recordkeeping function over and above the giving of notice to the losing party that a final decision has been entered against it.”).

    The United States has a compelling interest in protecting an ongoing fraud investigation in qui tam actions pursuant to the False Claims Act sufficient to overcome the public’s right of access to the docket.  However, after the United States has decided to intervene, a litigant’s bare privacy interest is insufficient to justify continued sealing of a qui tam proceeding and its records. See Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Holder, 673 F.3d 245 (4th Cir. 2011); Under Seal v. Under Seal, 326 F.3d 479 (4th Cir. 2003); United States v. King Pharm., Inc., 806 F. Supp. 2d 833 (D. Md. 2011).

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  • 5th Circuit

    Nothing found specific to the Fifth Circuit.

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  • 7th Circuit

    Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 26.2 governs “Sealed Documents” and provides, in part, that “[t]he court may on written motion and for good cause shown enter an order directing that the docket entry for a sealed document show only that a sealed document was filed without any notation indicating its nature. . . .”  Id., subd. (f).

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  • Alabama

    There do not appear to be any Alabama cases that specifically address the right to access court dockets, but the general presumption of openness should be applicable.

    Docket information is available online via the state’s “Alacourt” system. Users may subscribe for an annual fee to Alacourt generally (https://v2.alacourt.com), or they may choose to access docket information related to a single case through the state’s “Just One Look” system, for a substantially reduced fee (https://pa.alacourt.com). Docket information may also be obtained from the clerk of the court in which the case is pending.

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  • Arizona

    No published decisions.

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  • Arkansas

    The Supreme Court of Arkansas adopted a policy that grants public access to court records, including all court records, including the register of action and docket sheets, available to the public during business hours established by the court. Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order No. 19. The Administrative Order also said that “[c]ourts should endeavor” to make information, including dockets, available by remote access “when available in electronic form.” Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order No. 19(V)(A)(3).

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  • Georgia

    Dockets are publicly available in Georgia. Georgia has no single statewide system for electronically accessing court dockets but many courts—including the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and many trial courts—do provide such access online via their own website or that of an authorized private vendor.

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  • Idaho

    The public has access to “[c]alendars or dockets of court proceedings, including case numbers and captions, date and time of hearings, and location of hearings.”  I.C.A.R. 32(d)(4).

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  • Kansas

    Dockets are among records presumed to be open in civil cases.  A presumption of openness applies to court records, regardless of whether they are criminal or civil, under the Kansas Open Records Act, 45-215 et seq., as implemented by the Kansas Judicial Branch.  See Kansas Judicial Branch, Administrative Order No. 156, Administration of the Kansas Open Records Act, http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/administrative-orders/Admin-order-156.pdf.

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  • Mississippi

    Some, but not all, Mississippi trial courts maintain their own websites or provide web access through a private vendor. Some of these sites include docket information. For cases on appeal, the docket of the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals is available online at https://courts.ms.gov/. The site provides a docket entry noting each filing, order and opinion in each case. The docket is searchable by party name, attorney name, and case number.

    Records not available online can be viewed or copied in the office of the Clerk of the Mississippi Supreme Court, which maintains Supreme Court and Court of Appeals case files. Records may be viewed in the clerk’s office or copied. The clerk’s office may require advance notice of a request to view or copy a file. The telephone number is 601-359-3694. Because of limited space, older files are transferred to the state Department of Archives and History. Those records should be obtained directly from Archives and History.

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  • Nevada

    The Nevada Rules for Sealing and Redacting Court Records provide:

    “Under no circumstances shall the court seal an entire court file. An order entered under these rules must, at a minimum, require that the following information is available for public viewing on court indices: (i) the case number(s) or docket code(s) or number(s); (ii) the date that the action was commenced; (iii) the names of the parties, counsel of record, and the assigned judge; (iv) the notation “case sealed”; (v) the case type and cause(s) of action, which may be obtained from the Civil Cover Sheet; (vi) the order to seal and written findings supporting the order; and (vii) the identity of the party or other person who filed the motion to seal.”

    SRCR 3(5)(c) (emphasis added).

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  • New Mexico

    For purposes of Rule 1-079 NMRA, “‘court record’ means all or any portion of a document, paper, exhibit, transcript, or other material filed or lodged with the court, and the register of actions and docket entries used by the court to document the activity in a case.” (emphasis added). As such, no portion of the docket shall be sealed except by court order. Id. Even where statutory carve-outs to the presumption exist, “the docket number and case type for the categories of cases listed in this paragraph shall not be sealed without a court order.” Id.

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  • Pennsylvania

    There is a right of access to case dockets under both the First Amendment and the common law. See Commonwealth v. Curley, --- A.3d ----, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 599, at *8-9 (June 4, 2018). Before sealing any portion of a docket, the court must make “individualized, specific, particularized findings” with respect to each docket entry. See id. at *10-11 (trial court erred in failing to make such findings when sealing docket entries).

    Effective January 6, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved a new policy that governs public access to case records, 204 Pa. Code § 213.81. “Case records,” as defined in the policy, include case dockets. However the policy provides that if a court posts online docket information concerning family court actions and actions governed by the Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries Code, Adult Protective Services Act, and the Older Adult Protective Services Act, those docket entries may include only (1) a party’s name, (2) a party’s address information, (3) counsel of record’s name and address, (4) docket number, (5) entries indicating generally what actions have been taken or are scheduled in a case, (6) court orders and opinions, (7) filing date of the case, and (8) case type.

    Dockets for matters pending in the Superior Court, Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court may be accessed online at the web portal for The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: https://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/Appellate.aspx (last visited July 19, 2018).

    Many counties also offer electronic access to their Court of Common Pleas dockets for civil cases. Electronic case record information held on these portals is also governed by Electronic Case Record Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, available at http://www.pacourts.us/assets/files/page-1090/file-837.pdf.

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