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G. Post-trial records

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  • 10th Circuit

    The Tenth Circuit has noted that there is generally a “right of access to judicial records.” United States v. Apperson, 642 Fed. Appx. 892, 898 (10th Cir. 2016) (quoting Mann v. Boatright, 477 F.3d 1140, 1149 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted)).

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  • 2nd Circuit

    The Second Circuit has not addressed this matter specifically; however, at least one other Circuit Court has found that such a right exists.  See Newman v. Graddick, 696 F.2d 796, 801 (11th Cir. 1983) (recognizing a constitutional right of access to post-trial proceedings in a civil case dealing with prisoners’ rights).

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  • 5th Circuit

    Nothing found specific to the Fifth Circuit.

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  • 7th Circuit

    Even though in-chambers hearings on implementation of institutional reform consent decree would not be open to the press and public, “any proceedings on the merits of this case will continue to be held in open court,” and “the public will have access to records of the in-chambers conferences. . . .” B.H. v. McDonald, 49 F.3d 294, 299 (7th Cir. 1995).

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  • 8th Circuit

    There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to post-trial civil records.

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  • Alabama

    Subject to the provisions of Holland v. Eads, 614 So. 2d 1012, 1016 (Ala. 1993), post-trial records should be available to the public.

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  • Arizona

    No published decisions.

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  • California

    California appellate courts have not considered whether the constitutional presumption of access applies to civil post-trial records. However, California courts have applied the presumption of access to court records in all other phases of civil litigation. See, e.g., McNair v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, 234 Cal. App. 4th 25, 29, 183 Cal. Rptr. 3d 490 (2015) (mandating access to pre-trial papers lodged as part of an appellate record). Thus, the presumptive right of access should apply to civil post-trial records, so long as those records are substantive and “submitted as a basis for adjudication.” Id. at 39.

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  • Colorado

    The Colorado Judicial Department’s Public Access to Court Records policy (“Public Access Policy”) (pdf) expressly applies to “all electronically filed (e-filed) or served (e-service) documents in accordance with the rules of the Supreme Court . . . .” (Section 4.00.)  In general, all “[i]nformation in the court record is accessible to the public,” and “court record” is broadly defined.  (Section 3.03(a); Section 4.10.)  The Public Access Policy restricts access to records in certain types of cases or to certain documents, absent a contrary court order.  (Section 4.60.)

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  • Florida

    As with other court records, appellate court records are also presumptively open. Barron v. Florida Freedom Newspapers, Inc., 531 So. 2d 113, 118 (Fla. 1988). Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420 addresses public access to Florida court records and some provisions of the current rule could impact access to appellate court records. Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(g) addresses requests to determine the confidentiality of appellate court records in non-criminal cases. Unlike motions to seal trial court records, no hearing is held on a motion to seal appellate court records. A request to unseal appellate court records must be made in a written motion filed in the appellate court.

    Under Barron v. Florida Freedom Newspapers, Inc., 531 So. 2d 113, 116 (Fla. 1988), to overcome the strong presumption of openness in civil proceedings, including appellate records, a proponent of closure must satisfy a three-prong test. The first prong requires a proponent to show that closure is necessary: “(a) to comply with established public policy set forth in the constitution, statutes, or case law; (b) to protect trade secrets; (c) to protect a compelling government interest [e.g., national security; confidential informants]; (d) to obtain evidence to properly determine legal issues in a case; (e) to avoid substantial injury to innocent third parties [e.g., to protect young witnesses from offensive testimony; to protect children in a divorce]; or (f) to avoid substantial injury to a party by disclosure of matter protected by a common law or privacy right not generally inherent in the specific type of civil proceeding sought to be closed.” Id. at 118. For privacy concerns, “it is generally the content of the subject matter rather than the status of the party that determines whether a privacy interest exists” that permits closure. Id. However, the privacy interest can be negated where “the content of the subject matter directly concerns a position of public trust held by the individual seeking closure.” Id. Second, the court must find that no reasonable alternatives exist to reach the desired result. Id. Finally, if no reasonable alternative exists then the court must ensure that the means and the least restrictive necessary to accomplish the goal. Id.

    Requests for closure of civil appellate court records are rare. Motions to seal court records will be denied (often without prejudice) if the proponent fails to address the sealing standards announced in BarronSee e.g., Gulliver Sch., Inc. v. Snay, 137 So. 3d 1031 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013); BDO Seidman, LLP v. Banco Espirito Santo Int’l, Ltd., Nos. 3D07-2746, 3D07-2472, 2009 WL 928484 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Apr. 8, 2009).

    Access to records online is governed by Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order 14-19, as amended. Links to Florida court websites can be found at www.flcourts.org. Florida’s district courts of appeal and the Florida Supreme Court may designate cases as “high profile,” making the related court documents available through the court’s website. The Florida Supreme Court’s high profile cases pages can currently be found at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/index.shtml. Most appellate court clerks are good contacts for any questions concerning access to appellate court records.

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  • Georgia

    Uniform Superior Court Rule 21 makes “all” court records presumptively available to the public, including post-trial records. See, e.g., Atlanta Journal-Constitution v. Long, 259 Ga. 23, 24 (1989) (vacating an order sealing from public access “all pleadings and discovery, either pre-trial or post-trial, for the duration of the records’ existence”).

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  • Idaho

    Idaho Courts Administrative Rule 32 does not expressly mention any civil post-trial motions or records.  Instead, Rule 32(d)(7)’s general provision that access is allowed to “[p]leadings, motions, affidavits, responses, memoranda, briefs and other documents filed or lodged in a case file” should apply.

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  • Indiana

    Post-trial records are open to public access unless Administrative Rule 9(G) excludes them. Ind. Admin. Rule 9(D)(1).

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  • Iowa

    Generally, court records filed in the office of the clerk of court are public records open to inspection under Iowa Code Chapter 22. In Iowa, “[e]very person shall have the right to examine and copy a public record and to publish or otherwise disseminate a public record or the information contained in a public record.” Iowa Code § 22.2 (2018). Certain records, such as minutes of testimony that accompany a county attorney’s information, are confidential by court rule.

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  • Kansas

    A presumption of openness applies to post-trial records in civil cases 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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  • Kentucky

    Presumptively open. See Courier-Journal & Louisville Times Co. v. Peers, 747 S.W.2d 125 (Ky. 1988); Fiorella v. Paxton Media Grp., LLC, 424 S.W.3d 433, 439 (Ky. Ct. App. 2014) (“presumption of openness” applies to “everything filed with the courts”).

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  • Louisiana

    There should be no different standards for access to post-trial records than for access to pre-trial records. See the “Pretrial motions and records” section above. Typically, such records are obtained simply by going to the clerk’s office (or the judge’s chambers) and asking for the record.

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  • Maine

    Post-trial motions and records filed with the Court are open to the public.

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  • Maryland

    There are no judicial decisions, rules, or statutes related specifically to access to post-trial records. Nevertheless, in Baltimore Sun Co. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 755 A.2d 1130, 1134 (Md. 2000), the Court of Appeals declared broadly that the “common law principle of openness is not limited to the trial itself, but applies generally to court proceedings and documents.”

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  • Massachusetts

    Like the U.S. Supreme Court, Massachusetts courts have not explicitly addressed the right of public access to all types of post-trial records. Generally, where the Supreme Court and Massachusetts courts have not yet decided whether there is a right of access to a certain type of record, Massachusetts courts will make this determination based on the type of proceeding associated with the records; if there is a right of access to the proceeding, then the court would likely afford the same access to the records. See, e.g., Newspapers of New England, Inc. v. Clerk-Magistrate, 531 N.E.2d 1261, 1265 (Mass. 1988) (citing Press–Enterprise II, 478 U.S. at 8; Press–Enterprise I, 464 U.S. at 513).

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  • Minnesota

    Though Minnesota courts have not specifically addressed whether the public has a constitutional right of access to post-trial records, the Minnesota Supreme Court has adopted The Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch, which provide that as a general policy, the “[r]ecords of all courts and court administrators … are presumed to be open to any member of the public for inspection or copying at all times during the regular office hours.” Minn. R. Pub. Access Rec’ds. Jud. Br. 2. “Records” are defined as “any recorded information that is collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a court or court administrator.” Id. 3, subd. 5. Rules 7 and 8 dictate the procedure for requesting access, which is straightforward and does not require the payment of a fee unless otherwise established by statute; however, when copies are requested, the custodian may charge a copy fee. Id. 8; subd. 6.

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  • Montana

    All post-trial records are open to the public unless the trial is closed.

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  • Nevada

    Post-trial records are presumed open unless sealed by the court. The Nevada Rules for Sealing and Redacting Court Records promulgated by the Nevada Supreme Court provide that “[a]ll court records in civil actions are available to the public, except as otherwise provided in these rules.”  SRCR 1(3).   For purposes of this rule, the term “court record” includes, but is not limited to any document, information, exhibit, or other thing that is maintained by a court in connection with a judicial proceeding; and any index, calendar, docket, register of actions, official record of the proceedings, order, decree, judgment, minute, and any information in a case management system created or prepared by the court that is related to a judicial proceeding.  SRCR 2(2).

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  • New Hampshire

    The right of access, discussed in “Overcoming a presumption of openness” above, applies to post-trial records.

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  • New Mexico

    Rule 1-079 NMRA dictates that “court records are subject to public access unless sealed by order of the court or otherwise protected from disclosure under the provisions of this rule.” Because “court record” is defined as “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,” it follows that post-trial records are allowed the same presumption to public access. As such, post-trial records shall be open to the public absent statutory exclusion, see NMSA 1978, § 32A-58(C); NMSA 1978, § 24-1-15(J); NMSA 1978, § 24-2B-5.1(B); and NMSA 1978, § 40-11A-625, or a court order to the contrary. The order must set forth the court’s findings that:

    “(a) the existence of an overriding interest that overcomes the right of public access to the court record;

    (b) the overriding interest supports sealing the court record;

    (c) a substantial probability exists that the overriding interest will be prejudiced if the court record is not sealed;

    (d) the proposed sealing is narrowly tailored; and

    (e) no less restrictive means exist to achieve the overriding interest.”

    Rule 1-079.

    The order shall require the sealing of the record only to the extent necessary. Id. The order shall further specify who is authorized to have access to the sealed court record and a date or event upon which it expires or shall explicitly state that the order remains in effect until further order of the court. The order shall specify any person or entity entitled to notice of any future motion to unseal the court record or modify the sealing order. Id.

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  • North Dakota

    Court records related to the following are confidential: (1) Juvenile court proceedings; (2) Mental health commitment proceedings; (3) Social security numbers; credit, debit, or electronic fund transfer card numbers; and financial account numbers; (4)  Adoption and paternity proceedings; (5)  Domestic violence protection order files - except for the final order of the court; (6) Psychological evaluations and drug and alcohol treatment records; (7) The property and debt listing of the parties to a divorce as provided by N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24.3; (8) Documents filed with the court for in-camera examination pending disclosure; (9) Case information and documents in Child Relinquishment to Identified Adoptive Parent cases brought under N.D.C.C. ch. 14-15.1; (10) names of qualified or summoned jurors and contents of jury qualification forms if disclosure is prohibited or restricted by order of the court; (11) judge and court personnel work material, including personal calendars, communications from law clerks, bench memoranda, notes, work in progress, draft documents and non-finalized documents; (12) party, witness and crime victim contact information gathered and recorded by the court for administrative purposes, including telephone numbers and e-mail, street and postal addresses; and (13) the name of a patron of the North Dakota Legal Self Help Center or information sufficient to identify a patron or the subject about which a patron requested information.

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  • Pennsylvania

    There is a presumptive right of access to judicial records filed in post-trial proceedings. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Martinez, 917 A.2d 856, 860 (Pa. Super. 2007).

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  • Utah

    The general presumption in favor of the right of public access presumably applies equally to post-trial records in civil cases.  See United States v. McVeigh, 119 F.3d 806, 811 (10th Cir. 1997) (“It is clearly established that court documents are covered by a common law right of access.  Under that doctrine, judicial documents are presumptively available to the public, but may be sealed if the right to access is outweighed by the interests favoring nondisclosure.”); Soc’y of Prof’l Journalists v. Briggs, 675 F. Supp. 1308, 1310 (D. Utah 1987) (“This court agrees and holds that there is a constitutional right of access to public documents.”); State v. Archuleta, 857 P.2d 234 (Utah 1993) (First Amendment right of access to court records filed in connection with preliminary hearing); Utah Code § 63G-2-301(2)(f) (“judicial records” are presumptively public under GRAMA); Utah Code Jud. Admin. 4-202.02(1) (“Court records are public unless otherwise classified by this rule.”); see also Lafferty v. Bigelow, No. 2:07-CV-322 (D. Utah Jan. 9, 2014) (granting media intervenors’ motion to unseal records and to disclose unrecorded docket entries); DUCivR 5-2(a) (“The records of the court are presumptively open to the public.”).

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  • Vermont

    See “In general” section.

    Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 79.3 provides that “[v]ideo recordings of public proceedings are public records, unless otherwise protected from disclosure by law or by order of the court. Duplicated copies may be ordered at the conclusion of a trial, or at any time by a party.”  V.R.C.P. Rule 79.3(f).

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  • Washington

    The public’s right of access to court proceedings includes the right of access to case records, and any limitations are subject to the five-factor Bone-Club/Ishikawa test.  Dreiling v. Jain, 151 Wn.2d 900, 915, 93 P.3d 861, 870 (2004).

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  • West Virginia

    As set forth above, both the West Virginia Constitution and statutes provide a presumptive right of public access to court records.  See “Access to civil records/In general” above.  This rule applies to post-trial records.  See State ex rel. Garden State Newspapers, Inc. v. Hoke, 205 W.Va. 611, 520 S.E.2d 186, 191 (W.Va. 1999).

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  • Wyoming

    Post-trial records are presumed open to the public unless subject to closure in accordance with the court rules.

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