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8th Circuit

Open Courts Compendium

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Author

William R. Robinson
Edward F. Roche
Eric J. Fisher
Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, L.L.P.
150 Fayetteville Street, Suite 2300
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

Last updated November 5, 2019

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I. Introduction: Access rights in the jurisdiction

The Eighth Circuit has recognized the importance of public access to the courts, noting that “[t]he right to a public trial has long been viewed as a safeguard against any attempt to employ our courts as instruments of persecution. . . . An open trial assures that the proceedings are conducted fairly and discourages perjury, misconduct, and decisions based on partiality or bias. Even though most community members do not attend trials, the knowledge that they could and that others do fortifies the public's confidence in the trials’ results.” United States v. Thunder, 438 F.3d 866, 867 (8th Cir. 2006).

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A. The roots of access rights

Common Law

The Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit have both noted that the public’s right to access judicial proceedings and records originated in English common law. United States v. Powers, 622 F.2d 317, 323–24 (8th Cir. 1980) (stating that this right has had “seemingly universal recognition in this country since the earliest times”) (quoting Gannett Co. v. DePasquale, 443 U.S. 368, 414 (1979)).  The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a common law right of access to “judicial records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978).  The Eighth Circuit has recognized a common law right of access to court records in civil cases.  See, e.g., IDT Corp. v. eBay, 709 F.3d 1220 (8th Cir. 2013) (applying common law right of access to complaint filed in civil case). The Eighth Circuit has said that “[w]hen the common law right of access to judicial records is implicated, [the court will] give deference to the trial court rather than taking the approach of some circuits and recognizing a ‘strong presumption’ favoring access.” Webster Groves Sch. Dist. v. Pulitzer Pub. Co., 898 F.2d 1371, 1376 (8th Cir. 1990) (citing United States v. Webbe, 791 F.2d 103, 106 (8th Cir.1986)).

First Amendment

In addition to the common law, the Supreme Court has also held that the public’s right to attend criminal trials derives from the First Amendment’s protections for speech, press, and assembly. Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 577 (1980) (noting that “without the freedom to attend such trials, which people have exercised for centuries, important aspects of freedom of speech and of the press could be eviscerated”). With some exceptions—such as in certain cases involving minors—the Eighth Circuit has consistently upheld this view, holding that the right to a public trial may be “invoked by the press or the public” under First Amendment jurisprudence. United States v. Thompson, 713 F.3d 388, 392 (8th Cir. 2013). That said, there are nevertheless limitations, and “[t]he press has no greater right of access to the courts than does the public.” Webster Groves Sch. Dist. v. Pulitzer Pub’lg Co., 898 F.2d 1371, 1374 n.3 (8th Cir. 1990).

When a party requests access to proceedings or documents, the Eighth Circuit looks to the two-prong test introduced in Press-Enterprise Co. v. Super. Ct., 471 U.S. 1 (1986) (“Press-Enterprise II”) to determine whether the presumptive First Amendment right of access applies. Zink v. Lombardi, 783 F.3d 1089, 1112 (8th Cir. 2015). In doing so, courts will consider “whether the place and process have historically been open to the press and general public” as well as “whether public access plays a significant positive role in the functioning of the particular process in question.” Id. (quoting Press-Enterprise II, 471 U.S. at 8). These are often referred to more simply as the “experience and logic” tests. Flynt v. Lombardi, 885 F.3d 508, 512–13 (8th Cir. 2018).

State constitutions, statutes, and court rules

Aside from the common law and First Amendment, several states in the Eighth Circuit provide for access through their constitutions, statutes, or court rules as well. See, e.g., Iowa Const. art. I, § 7 (“No law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech, or of the press.”); Neb. R. Ct. § 6-2003 (B) (“Expanded news media coverage of a proceeding is permitted unless the judicial officer finds that under the circumstances of the particular proceeding, such coverage would interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial.”); Ark. R. Crim. P. 38.1 (“No rule of court or judicial order shall be promulgated that prohibits representatives of the news media from broadcasting or publishing any information in their possession relating to a criminal case.”). Some state codes include statutory carve-outs for specific situations. See, e.g., S.D. Codified Laws § 26-7A-38 (“The name, picture, place of residence, or identity of any child, parent, guardian, custodian, or any person appearing as a witness in proceedings [in certain cases involving a minor] may not be published or broadcast in any news media or given any other publicity, unless for good cause it is specifically permitted by order of the court.”).

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B. Overcoming a presumption of openness

First Amendment right of access

The First Amendment rights of the public and press are not absolute, and the presumption that criminal trials are open to the public may be overcome with the showing of an “overriding interest articulated in findings.” Richmond Newspapers, 448 U.S. at 581. Indeed, a trial judge may, “in the fair administration of justice, impose reasonable limitations.” Id. at 518 n. 18. The U.S. Supreme Court elaborated on this approach in Press-Enterprise II, holding that the overriding interest, necessary to overcome the First Amendment right of access, must be “based on findings that closure is essential to preserve higher values” while also being “narrowly tailored to serve that interest.” Press-Enterprise II, 446 U.S. at 510.

Following Press-Enterprise II, the Eighth Circuit has emphasized the need for lower courts to articulate their findings before closing the courtroom. See, e.g., In re U.S. ex rel. Pulitzer Publ’g Co., 635 F.2d 676, 679 (8th Cir. 1980). Though there have been some exceptions, the Eighth Circuit has reversed multiple rulings that precluded media access when the lower court failed to articulate the reasons for its decision. In one sexual abuse case involving a minor, for example, the Eighth Circuit found that the lower court erred in closing the courtroom during the testimony of allegedly abused children without a hearing or making any findings to support that decision. United States v. Thunder, 438 F.3d 866 (8th Cir. 2006).  Although this case involved the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, the court applied the same Press-Enterprise II test applicable in the First Amendment context, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S. 39, 46 (1984). Thunder, 438 F.3d at 867.

Common law right of access

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Nixon v. Warner Communications, 435 U.S. 589 (1978), the Eighth Circuit has recognized a “common law presumption in favor of public access to judicial records,” but it has “rejected the strong presumption standard adopted by some circuits,” and instead gives deference to the trial court’s findings. United States v. McDougal, 103 F.3d 651 (8th Cir. 1996) (emphasis in original); see also Webster Groves Sch. Dist. v. Pulitzer Publ’g Co., 898 F.2d 1371, 1376 (8th Cir. 1990). In McDougal, an Eighth Circuit panel found the common law right of access did not attach to a videotaped deposition of President Bill Clinton even though it had been played at trial. 103 F.3d at 657. The court also concluded that the circumstances favored keeping the videotape sealed, agreeing with the lower court’s finding that the public already had information about what the tape contained, that releasing it would be inconsistent with the ban on cameras in the courtroom, that tapes had not been released in the cases of other sitting presidents, and that the tape could be potentially misused. McDougal, 103 F.3d at 658–59.

The Eighth Circuit found the common law right of access to a complaint overcome by the need to keep “sensitive business information” confidential.  IDT Corp. v. eBay, 709 F.3d 1220, 1221 (8th Cir. 2013).  The court affirmed the district court’s decision to seal such information but remanded the case so the district court could either unseal a redacted version of the complaint or explain why sealing the entire complaint was warranted.  Id.  The court explained that it must balance the public’s interest in access against the party’s interest in maintaining confidentiality and noted that the weight given to the interest in access should comport with the role played by the judicial records “in the exercise of Article III” power and the “value of such information to those monitoring the courts.”  Id. at 1224.  The court found that since the trial court never adjudicated any claims on the merits, and the complaint thus played “only a negligible role in the performance of Article III duties,” “the weight of the presumption” in favor of access was “low.”  Id.

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C. Procedural prerequisites to closure

Where a presumption of access applies, courts must make specific, on-the-record findings before closing the courtroom or sealing court records. Press-Enterprise II, 478 U.S. at 13–14. The Supreme Court has also acknowledged that the public has a procedural right to receive notice and an opportunity to be heard before the closure occurs. Globe Newspaper Co. v. Super. Ct., 457 U.S. 596, 609 n.25 (“Of course, for a case-by-case approach to be meaningful, representatives of the press and general public ‘must be given an opportunity to be heard on the question of their exclusion.’”) (quoting Gannett Co. v. DePasquale, 443 U.S. 368, 400–01 (1979) (Powell, J., concurring)).

The Eighth Circuit has found the procedural right of access satisfied where a motion to close the courtroom was made in open court, and the court promptly granted it and closed the court. Webster Groves Sch. Dist. v. Pulitzer Publ’g Co., 898 F.2d 1371, 1376 (8th Cir. 1990) (rejecting “the notion” that a judge must order a continuance and “concoct some provision for public notice” before ruling on a motion made in open court to close the courtroom).

However, the Eighth Circuit has reversed a trial court’s decision to close the courtroom where it failed to hold a hearing on the matter and did not make any specific findings to justify the closure. See, e.g., United States v. Thunder, 438 F.3d 866, 868 (8th Cir. 2013).  The court explained that “the closure must be no broader than necessary” to protect an “overriding interest” justifying closure.  Id. at 867 (citing Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S.39, 48 (1984); Press-Enterprise Co. v. Super. Ct., 464 U.S. 501, 510 (1984) (“Press-Enterprise I”).  Prior to closure, “the trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closing the proceeding, and it must make findings adequate to support the closure.” Id. at 867­–68 (citing Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S.39, 48 (1984)).

However, the Eighth Circuit has also formulated its own standard that distinguishes between partial and complete courtroom closures. Complete closures—those in which all members of the public are excluded from the courtroom—must be narrowly tailored to the advancement of a compelling government interest, as required by the Press-Enterprise cases. Thunder, 438 F.3d at 868. By contrast, partial closures—those in which certain members of the public are permitted to remain in the courtroom—need be supported only by a “substantial reason.” United States v. Farmer, 32 F.3d 369, 371 (8th Cir. 1994); United States v. Thompson, 713 F.3d 388, 395 (8th Cir. 2013). For instance, in a sexual assault case where everyone but the alleged victim’s family and treating psychologist was asked to leave the courtroom for a portion of the victim’s testimony, the court found that evidence in the record showing that the victim feared for her safety was sufficient to satisfy the requirement. Farmer, 32 F.3d at 370–72. The panel allowed the partial closure even in the absence of articulated findings, holding that “specific findings by the district court are not necessary if we can glean sufficient support for a partial temporary closure from the record.” Id. at 371. Whether this lower standard for partial closures comports with the Press-Enterprise requirements of a “compelling interest” and specific findings is an open question. See, e.g., Bell v. Jarvis, 236 F.3d 149, 168 n.11 (4th Cir. 2000).

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II. Procedure for asserting right of access to proceedings and records

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A. Media standing to challenge closure

The Eighth Circuit has not specifically addressed whether media organizations have standing to challenge court closures when they are not otherwise a party to an action, although the court has heard appeals by media organizations, who intervened in cases in order to seek access, without questioning the media’s standing. See, e.g., United States v. McDougal, 103 F.3d 651, 659 (8th Cir. 1996). However, a trial court in the Eighth Circuit distinguished news media organizations from non-news media organizations when it denied an application for release of videotaped testimony filed by non-profit group Citizens United due to lack of standing because the organization was “not a party” to the action and “not a news media organization.” United States v. McDougal, 940 F. Supp. 224, 225 (E.D. Ark.), aff’d on other grounds, 103 F.3d 651 (8th Cir. 1996). The Eighth Circuit did not reach this standing question on appeal, but the trial court ruling may suggest the Eighth Circuit is willing to grant some flexibility to news media organizations on questions of standing when they are not otherwise a party to an action. McDougal, 103 F.3d at 659.

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B. Procedure for requesting access in criminal cases

The Eighth Circuit has not specified a procedure.

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C. Procedure for requesting access in civil matters

The Eighth Circuit has held that “permissive intervention under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 24(b) is an appropriate procedural vehicle for non-parties seeking access to judicial records in civil cases.” Flynt v. Lombardi, 782 F.3d 963, 967 (8th Cir. 2015) (per curiam). Media organizations have filed petitions to intervene at the district court level and also filed applications for access. United States v. McDougal, 940 F. Supp. 224, 226 (E.D. Ark.), aff’d on other grounds, 103 F.3d 651 (8th Cir. 1996).

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D. Obtaining review of initial court decisions

Access decisions in the Eighth Circuit have been reviewed both by petition for writ of mandamus, In re U.S. ex rel. Pulitzer Publ’g Co., 635 F.2d 676, and on appeal, Office of Gunn, 855 F.2d at 572. District court decisions can be appealed where the press challenge on the access issue was brought as its own separate case.  Id.  Where the challenge was brought in the context of the underlying civil or criminal case in which access is sought, the Eighth Circuit has suggested that appellate review may be available via an appeal under the collateral order doctrine as an alternative to mandamus.  See id.

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III. Access to criminal proceedings

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A. In general

Eighth Circuit case law regarding access to criminal proceedings is relatively scarce, but the Circuit has acknowledged “the [F]irst [A]mendment rights of the press and public to attend and observe” criminal trials. United States v. Thunder, 438 F.3d 866, 867 (8th Cir. 2006). Supreme Court cases have established that the press and general public have a “constitutional right of access to criminal trials,” even if such right is not specifically mentioned in the First Amendment. Globe Newspaper Co. v. Super. Ct., 457 U.S. 596, 603 (1982). The Eighth Circuit has also “noted that the public enjoys a qualified right of access to certain criminal proceedings,” including preliminary hearings, criminal trials, and voir dire. Flynt v. Lombardi, 885 F.3d 508, 513 (8th Cir. 2018) (citing Zink v. Lombardi, 783 F.3d 1089 (8th Cir. 2015)).

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B. Pretrial proceedings

The Supreme Court has clarified that the right of access to criminal proceedings can include a right to access preliminary proceedings as well. Press-Enterprise II, 478 U.S. at 2.

The Eighth Circuit has recognized a First Amendment right of access to contempt proceedings, “a hybrid containing both civil and criminal characteristics.” In re Iowa Freedom of Info. Council, 724 F.2d 658, 661 (8th Cir. 1983).

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C. Criminal trials

In line with Supreme Court precedent establishing the public’s constitutional right of access to criminal proceedings, the Eighth Circuit has recognized on both First Amendment and Sixth Amendment grounds that criminal trials should generally be open. United States v. Thunder, 438 F.3d 866–67 (8th Cir. 2006). For example, the Eighth Circuit has ruled that closure of the courtroom in a child sex abuse case during testimony of allegedly abused children violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial where the trial judge failed to hold a hearing or make any findings. Id.

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D. Post-trial proceedings

The Eighth Circuit has extended the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial to sentencing hearings, though this right is not absolute. See United States v. Thompson, 713 F.3d 388 (8th Cir. 2013). This finding suggests that the Eighth Circuit would similarly recognize a First Amendment right of access to sentencing hearings since the court came to its conclusion after applying the same Press-Enterprise II test used to assess whether a First Amendment right of access exists. Id. at 393–94. The court concluded that such a right of access does exist, finding that sentencings have historically been open to the public and that public access plays a significant positive role in its functioning. Id.

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E. Appellate proceedings

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to appellate proceedings.

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IV. Access to criminal court records

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A. In general

The Supreme Court has stated that “the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978). The Eighth Circuit recognizes a “common law presumption in favor of public access to judicial records,” but it has “rejected the strong presumption standard adopted by some circuits,” and gives deference to the trial court’s findings. United States v. McDougal, 103 F.3d 651 (8th Cir. 1996) (emphasis in original).

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B. Arrest records

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to criminal arrest records.

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C. Dockets

Only a single unpublished case addresses the right of access to criminal court dockets, and the case involved an inmate’s request for access. The Eighth Circuit held that an inmate’s First Amendment right of access to the courts was not infringed by a state court clerk who allegedly refused to provide the inmate a copy of the docket sheet in the inmate’s state criminal case since this “alleged inaction did not impede” the inmate’s “ability to file a habeas corpus petition in federal court and to request the document during case discovery.” Jackson v. Malecek, 1993 WL 315429, 2 F.3d 1154 (8th Cir. 1993).

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The Eighth Circuit has held that a qualified First Amendment “right of public access does extend to the documents filed in support of search warrant applications,” as a search warrant is “an integral part of a criminal prosecution.”  In re Search Warrant for Secretarial Area–Gunn, 855 F.2d 569, 573–74 (8th Cir.1988) (denying immediate access to affidavits supporting search warrant applications, finding that disclosure would jeopardize the integrity of ongoing criminal investigations).

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E. Discovery materials

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to criminal court discovery materials.

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F. Pretrial motions and records

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to pretrial motions and records in criminal court.

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G. Trial records

In United States v. McDougal, 103 F.3d 651, 657 (8th Cir. 1996), the Eighth Circuit found the common law right of access did not attach to a videotaped deposition of President Bill Clinton even though it had been played at trial. The Eighth Circuit also upheld the trial court’s decision to keep the videotape sealed, relying on the lower court’s finding that the public already had information about what the tape contained, that releasing it would be inconsistent with the ban on cameras in the courtroom, that tapes had not been released in the cases of other sitting presidents, and that the tape could be potentially misused. Id. at 658–59.

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H. Post-trial records

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

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I. Appellate records

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to appellate records in criminal court.

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J. Other criminal court records issues

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing other relevant criminal court records issues.

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V. Access to civil proceedings

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A. In general

Although Eighth Circuit case discussion is limited, the Supreme Court has suggested that civil trials would—like criminal trials—be presumptively open to the public. Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 580 n.17 (1980) (“[W]e note that historically both civil and criminal trials have been presumptively open.”).

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B. Pre-trial proceedings

The Eighth Circuit has recognized a First Amendment right of access to contempt proceedings, “a hybrid containing both civil and criminal characteristics.” In re Iowa Freedom of Info. Council, 724 F.2d 658, 661 (8th Cir. 1983).

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C. Trials

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to civil trials.

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D. Post-trial proceedings

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

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E. Appellate proceedings

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to civil appellate proceedings.

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VI. Access to civil records

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A. In general

The Supreme Court has stated that “the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978).

The Eighth Circuit has acknowledged that “the common-law right of access applies to judicial records in civil proceedings,” although whether a First Amendment right of access also applies is an open question in this Circuit.  IDT Corp. v. eBay, 709 F.3d 1220, 1222 (8th Cir. 2013). In particular, the Eighth Circuit has recognized a “modern trend in federal cases” that “pleadings in civil litigation” other than discovery motions and their accompanying exhibits are “presumptively public, even when the case is pending before judgment” Id.

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B. Dockets

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to civil court dockets.

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C. Discovery materials

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D. Pre-trial motions and records

The Eighth Circuit has recognized that complaints are presumptively open but permitted the sealing of certain sensitive business information. See IDT Corp. v. eBay, 709 F.3d 1220 (8th Cir. 2013). The Eighth Circuit has also stated that “[t]he district court may in appropriate cases seal documents or deposition testimony to ensure that they will be used only for judicial purposes and will not be disseminated.” Schoffstall v. Henderson, 223 F.3d 818, 823 (8th Cir. 2000).

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E. Trial records

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

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F. Settlement records

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

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G. Post-trial records

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

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H. Appellate records

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

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I. Other civil court records issues

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to other relevant civil court records issues.

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VII. Jury and grand jury access

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A. Access to voir dire

The Eighth Circuit has recognized that “the public enjoys a qualified right of access” to voir dire. Flynt v. Lombardi, 885 F.3d 508, 513 (8th Cir. 2018) (citing Zink v. Lombardi, 783 F.3d 1089 (8th Cir. 2015)).

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B. Juror identities, questionnaires and other records

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing the right of access to juror identities, questionnaires and other records.

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C. Grand jury proceedings and records

Grand jury proceedings are generally closed to the public and the press, and no First Amendment right of access exists for them. Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court of California for Riverside Cty., 478 U.S. 1, 10 (1986).

The Supreme Court has stated that “the proper functioning of our grand jury system depends upon the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.” Douglas Oil Co. of California v. Petrol Stops Nw., 441 U.S. 211, 218 (1979). A party seeking disclosure of grand jury materials must demonstrate a “particularized need” that outweighs the need for secrecy. Id. at 212.

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law specifically discussing grand jury proceedings and records.

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D. Interviewing jurors

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing media interviews with jurors.

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VIII. Proceedings involving minors

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A. Delinquency

The Supreme Court has not recognized any right of access to juvenile proceedings or records. Federal law states that “throughout and upon the completion of the juvenile delinquency proceeding, the records shall be safeguarded from disclosure to unauthorized persons.” 18 U.S.C. § 5038 (2018). State law will often govern the confidentiality of such proceedings as well.

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B. Dependency

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing dependency.

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C. Other proceedings involving minors

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing other relevant proceedings involving minors.

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D. Prohibitions on photographing or identifying juveniles

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing prohibitions on photographing or identifying juveniles.

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E. Minor testimony in non-juvenile courts

Under Eighth Circuit case law, the fact that proceedings involve minors does not necessarily override the constitutional right of access or presumption of openness. The Eighth Circuit has ruled that closure of the courtroom in a child sex abuse case during testimony of allegedly abused children violated a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial where the trial judge failed to hold a hearing or make any findings. United States v. Thunder, 438 F.3d 866 (8th Cir. 2006).

The Victims’ Protection and Rights Act states that: “[w]hen a child testifies the court may order the exclusion from the courtroom of all persons, including members of the press, who do not have a direct interest in the case.” 18 U.S.C. § 3509(e) (2018). To make such an order, the court must determine that “requiring the child to testify in open court would cause substantial psychological harm to the child or would result in the child’s inability to effectively communicate.” Id.

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IX. Special proceedings

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A. Tribal Courts in the jurisdiction

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing tribal courts in the jurisdiction.

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B. Probate

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing probate.

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C. Competency and commitment proceedings

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing competency and commitment proceedings.

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D. Attorney and judicial discipline

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing attorney and judicial discipline.

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E. Immigration proceedings

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F. Other proceedings

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X. Restrictions on participants in litigation

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A. Media standing to challenge third-party gag orders

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law discussing media standing to challenge third-party gag orders.

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B. Gag orders on the press

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C. Gag orders on participants

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D. Interviewing judges

There appears to be no Eighth Circuit case law on interviewing judges.

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XI. Other issues

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A. Interests often cited in opposing a presumption of access

The Eighth Circuit has allowed a portion of a hearing transcript to be sealed because it contained trade secrets or confidential commercial research. See In re Iowa Freedom of Info. Council, 724 F.2d 658 (8th Cir. 1984).

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B. Cameras and other technology in the courtroom

The Eighth Circuit has recognized that public broadcasting of criminal court hearings may be limited by the defendant’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. See Zaehringer v. Brewer, 635 F.2d 734 (8th Cir. 1980).

The Eighth Circuit also posts audio recordings of oral arguments on its website, but does not appear to publish any rules regarding the recording or live-streaming of oral arguments.

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C. Tips for covering courts in the jurisdiction

The Eighth Circuit’s website directs media to review: A Journalist’s Guide to the Federal Courts.

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