“Although the Fourth Circuit thus has not explicitly held that a First Amendment right of access exists with regard to non-dispositive civil motions and hearings, the precedent strongly favors that view, with the higher burden for sealing.” Minter v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 258 F.R.D. 118, 121 (D. Md. 2009) (denying motion to seal pleadings and exhibits relating to a motion for a protective order to prohibit a deposition).
The public and press have a constitutional and common law right to access pretrial hearings and arguments. See PA Child Care LLC v. Flood, 887 A.2d 309, 312 (Pa. Super. 2005) (“Pennsylvania has a mandate for open and public judicial proceedings in both the criminal and civil settings.”).
With respect to discovery, however, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has held that in civil proceedings “access rights to litigation are at their nadir.” Stenger v. Lehigh Valley Hosp. Ctr., 554 A.2d 954, 958 (Pa. Super. 1989) (citing Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 33 (1984)).