The False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b), allows individuals to bring qui tam actions on behalf of the government. The statute provides that “[t]he complaint shall be filed in camera, shall remain under seal for at least 60 days, and shall not be served on the defendant until the court so orders.” Still, the statute contemplates that the suits will eventually become public.
In at least one instance, the right of access has been extended to some administrative hearings. See, e.g., N.Y. Civil Liberties Union v. N.Y.C. Transit Auth., 684 F.3d 286, 301 (2d Cir. 2012) (holding there was a qualified right of public access to Transit Adjudication Bureau (TAB) hearings conducted by New York City Transit Authority.)
The public has a First Amendment right to attend a creditors’ meeting held in connection with a bankruptcy proceeding. SeeIn re Astri Inv., Mgmt. & Sec. Corp., 88 B.R. 730, 741–42 (D. Md. 1988) (vacating order closing creditors’ meeting to newspaper reporter).
The Colorado Judicial Department’s Public Access to Court Records policy (“Public Access Policy”) (pdf) excludes from public access certain case classes and case types, absent a court order. Those case classes and case types include: (1) adoption, (2) dependency and neglect, (3) judicial bypass, (4) juvenile delinquency, (5) mental health, (6) paternity, (7) probate protected proceedings, (8) relinquishment, and (9) truancy. (See Section 4.60(b).)
Pursuant to New Mexico law and effective January 1, 2020, each of the following documents is a public record open to public inspection during regular office hours in the office which the document was filed or from which it was issued:
“(1) a statement of no activity;
(2) a report of expenditures and contributions;
(3) an advisory opinion issued by the state ethics commission; except for the name of the person who requested the opinion;
(4) a document specified as a public record in the Campaign Reporting Act; and
(5) an arbitration decision issued by an arbitration panel and filed with the secretary of state or state ethics commission.”
NMSA 1978, § 1-19-32.
New Mexico courts have not addressed whether suits brought pursuant to the False Claims Act will eventually become public. As of 2007, however, “upon motion of the attorney general or political subdivision, a court may, in its discretion, dismiss an action brought pursuant to Section 44-9-5 NMSA 1978 if the elements of the alleged false or fraudulent claim have been publicly disclosed in the news media or in a publicly disseminated governmental report at the time the complaint is filed.” NMSA 1978, § 44-9-9.
Divorce hearings are presumptively open, but “are the type of proceedings which courts may close to protect the rights of the parties.” Katz v. Katz, 514 A.2d 1374, 1380 (Pa. Super. 1986); see also R.W. v. Hampe, 626 A.2d 1218, 1222 (Pa. Super. 1993) (“Divorce cases present one exception to the general rule of openness. The subject matter of divorce litigation serves, in many cases, ‘only to embarrass and humiliate’ the litigants.” (citation omitted)).
A judicial recount pursuant to Virginia Code § 24.2-800, et seq. is a judicial proceeding to which the public has a presumptive right of access. See Joshua G. Colev. Robert M. “Bob” Thomas, Jr., Civil Action No. CL17-2475-00, Order at 1 (Stafford County Cir. Ct. Dec. 21, 2017); see also Penick v. Ratcliffe, 149 Va. 618, 140 S.E. 664 (1927) (holding that a statutory action seeking a recount in a primary election constitutes a judicial proceeding).