I. Appellate records
The public’s First Amendment right of access extends to appellate proceedings, although the presumption of access can be overcome by a compelling governmental interest. See United States v. Moussaoui, 65 F. App’x 881 (4th Cir. 2003).
If the court concludes that sealing is warranted, the court may file its statement of the reasons for its decision under seal. In re Washington Post Co., 807 F.2d 383, 391 (4th Cir. 1986) (citation omitted); see also United States v. Adams, 788 F.3d 115 (4th Cir. 2015) (appellate decision issued under seal).
Idaho Appellate Rule 31(b) recognizes that some confidential documents used at the trial court level must be transmitted with the record on appeal. In such cases, the rule provides that “in any criminal or post-conviction case where a documentary exhibit, including a pre-sentence report, is transmitted to the Supreme Court for use in an appellate proceeding, the district court shall serve a copy of the documentary exhibit on the attorney general and on appellate counsel for the defendant, subject to the confidentiality provisions of I.C.A.R. 32.” In appeals from proceedings exempt from disclosure, the Idaho Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals may in their rulings use substitute designations such as “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” or further deletions to preserve the anonymity of participants in the proceeding. I.C.A.R. 32(h).
No Pennsylvania court has addressed this issue, but it is well-established that the public and press have a constitutional right to appellate court proceedings. See, e.g., United States v. Moussaoui, 65 F. App’x 881, 890 (4th Cir. 2003) (“[t]here can be no question that the First Amendment guarantees a right of access by the public to oral arguments in the appellate proceedings . . . . Such hearings have historically been open to the public, and the very considerations that counsel in favor of openness of criminal trial support a similar degree of openness in appellate proceedings.”).
Effective January 6, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved a new policy that governs public access to case records, 204 Pa. Code §213.81. The policy applies to case records filed in Pennsylvania’s appellate courts.
Remote access to the electronic case record information residing in the Pennsylvania Appellate Court Case Management System (PACMS) is available on https://ujsportal.pacourts.us/.
Electronic case record information held on PACMS 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.