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Reporters Committee seeks access to Supreme Court case

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  1. Court Access
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a motion in the Supreme Court yesterday asking to intervene in…

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a motion in the Supreme Court yesterday asking to intervene in a pending case in order to seek public access to the documents filed in the high court.

The petition for review in the case has not been released, and the petitioners have asked the court to seal the filing in order to comply with the lower courts’ sealing orders. However, the petitioners’ motion indicates that they do not want the case to be sealed, but feel they are bound by the lower court sealing orders.

Based on the limited documents publicly available, the case, In Re Grand Jury Proceedings, concerns witness challenges to subpoenas issued in connection with a grand jury investigation in Kansas regarding the prescription of pain-relief medication. The proceedings in the District Court of Kansas and the U.S. Court of Appeals (10th Cir.) are sealed by court order. However, news accounts revealed many of the details after the target of the investigation, Siobhan Reynolds, spoke to the media.

Only a few documents in the Supreme Court case are currently available to the public, including the petitioners’ motion to file a petition for certiorari under seal with a redacted version for the public.

The Reporters Committee’s motion to intervene seeks to open the Supreme Court filings to the public. In its motion, the Reporters Committee argues that the historical justifications for secrecy in grand jury proceedings cannot justify the complete sealing of court proceedings related to the grand jury matter, particularly when the case is on appeal. Such blanket secrecy conflicts not only with the long-recognized preference for open and public justice, but also with past Supreme Court practice.

The Supreme Court is currently set to consider the petitioners’ motion to file under seal on October 15th.

A copy of the Reporters Committee’s motion is available on its website.

The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.