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Reporters Committee, 29 other media groups urge Supreme Court to open secret case

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a…

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision that allowed all records in a federal employment discrimination case to be hidden from the public. The Reporters Committee filed the brief on behalf of itself and 29 other leading media organizations.

The friend-of-the-court brief was filed in support of The Legal Intelligencer, which petitioned the Supreme Court for review after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected its request to intervene in Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc. The newspaper sought to unseal the docket and record in Doe, a case in which the plaintiff claimed she was wrongly fired because she had an abortion.

"This case has been conducted for seven years in complete secrecy," the brief noted, "a testament to the need for the Court’s guidance regarding the right of access to civil hearings and records." The brief urged the Court to accept review to correct the mistakes below and "clarify that the public has a constitutional right of access to civil proceedings and records, because civil proceedings implicate precisely the same concerns about the fairness of the justice system that underlie the right of access to criminal proceedings."

The brief can be found at: www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20081014-amicusbrie.pdf