Court Documents Under SealPosted: April 5, 2007 Filed under: General 4 Comments »
Mediation in the Trademark Properties v A&E lawsuit was scheduled to occur before March 1, 2007. Reviewing the docket, however, it appears that mediation was not successful and that litigation continues.
Of concern to your webmaster are documents filed with the court that are now sealed. By sealing these documents, the parties, and the Court, have prevented those of us who desire to follow the case from knowing what is taking place in this litigation. This level of restriction is highly unusual.
For example, we have this interesting docket entry made just a few days ago:
04/02/2007 – Document #50
Sealed Document. (Attachments: # (1) Exhibit A# (2) Exhibit B# (3) Exhibit C# (4) Exhibit D# (5) Exhibit E# (6) Exhibit F# (7) Exhibit G# (8) Exhibit H# (9) Exhibit I# (10) Exhibit J# (11) Exhibit K# (12) Exhibit L# (13) Exhibit M# (14) Exhibit N# (15) Exhibit O# (16) Exhibit P# (17) Exhibit Q# (18) Exhibit R# (19) Exhibit S# (20) Exhibit T# (21) Exhibit U# (22) Exhibit V# (23) Exhibit W# (24) Exhibit X# (25) Exhibit Y# (26) Exhibit Z# (27) Exhibit AA)(Jordan, Robert) Modified on 4/3/2007 to correct the file date (erav, ). (Entered: 04/03/2007)
In the United States, there is a presumption in favor of open court records. In order for the public’s presumptive right of access to be limited, specific reasons must be presented to the Court. The sealing of records must be authorized by statute or required by compelling circumstances. Also, a party seeking to have the record sealed has the burden of showing that their interests in confidentiality outweigh the public policy in favor of open court records.
I have found no indication that, instead of sealing the record, the parties considered redacting sensitive information from the record. Doing so would allow some access to the court records and at the same time help protect any valid privacy interest.
I have contacted the Court in an attempt to gain access to these sealed documents so that I may report them to our readers. Access was denied (as is expected, unfortunately).
Absent a compelling circumstance, our courts should not allow litigation under a cloak of secrecy from public scrutiny. Simply wishing that the public would not know the details of pending litigation is not a compelling circumstance.
The docket number of this case is 2:06-cv-02195-CWH. The case has been assigned to the Honorable C. Weston Houck. The attorney for Trademark Properties is Frank M Cisa, Esq. The attorney for A&E is Robert H Jordan, Esq. Their names of the attorneys link to their email addresses. I encourage those interested in exercising your right of access to these court documents email the attorneys and request that documents not be filed under seal but instead be filed publicly with redactions as necessary to protect confidential information.
I have, however, downloaded those documents which are publicly available since my last docket update. They are as follows:
- Docket Report from 04/05/07
- #22 Rule 26(f) Report by Trademark Properties Inc.
- #25 MOTION to Compel Discovery Responses of Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants by Departure Films, A&E Television Networks
- #26 RESPONSE in Opposition re 25 MOTION to Compel Discovery Responses of Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants Response filed by Trademark Properties Inc, Trademark Properties Inc, Richard C Davis.
- #29 RESPONSE in Support re 25 MOTION to Compel Discovery Responses of Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants Response filed by A&E Television Networks, Departure Films, A&E Television Networks
- #31 First MOTION to Compel by Trademark Properties Inc, Richard C Davis.
- #33 Consent MOTION for Confidentiality Order by Departure Films, A&E Television Networks, A&E Television Networks(a Joint Venture of the Hearst Corporation).
- #34 CONFIDENTIALITY ORDER granting 33 Motion for Confidentiality Order. (details outlined in order).
- #35 RESPONSE in Opposition re 31 First MOTION to Compel Response filed by Departure Films, A&E Television Networks, A&E Television Networks(a Joint Venture of the Hearst Corporation).
- #40 AMENDED COMPLAINT against Departure Films, A&E Television Networks, filed by Trademark Properties Inc, Richard C Davis.
- #41 ANSWER to Amended Complaint and, COUNTERCLAIM against Trademark Properties Inc, Richard C Davis, Trademark Properties Inc, Richard C Davis by Departure Films, A&E Television Networks, A&E Television Networks(a Joint Venture of the Hearst Corporation).
- #42 REPLY by Trademark Properties Inc, Richard C Davis Plaintiffs’ Reply to Defendants’ Amended Answer and Counterclaim.
- #46 AFFIDAVIT of Charles Norlander by Departure Films, A&E Television Networks.
- #49 DECLARATION by Departure Films, A&E Television Networks of NANCY DUBUC.
There is little about this litigation that is truly confidential. However, the lawyers are not going to change their minds and agree to vacate the confidentiality order.
The best bet is to ask to intervene and move to set aside the confidentiality order and to unseal the sealed documents.
I agree that there is no chance the lawyers will change their mind. In fact, they will dismiss the messages (and post) as a silly “I am a lawyer wannabe” stunt. That is a disease that affects many lawyers, until about their second year when they realize people are generally not impressed. I am sure many blog readers would be curious about the contents, but lets put it in perspective – it is for entertainment value and not a great legal issue. I am not impressed with this post.
Richard, I completely understand why you filed a lawsuit and agree with why you did it. However, you live in a “debtor friendly” state. South Carolina state laws make it very difficult to collect on a judgement. Good luck and hope you win. FYI the confidentiality order is because there is a settlement being worked out and one party doesnt want to admit publicly to the guilt. Richard my advise is to settle and settle quickly, take what u can and run, learn the big lesson of not working without a contract.
You go ahead, Cuz!! I just found this site and have been reading through the info. I did not realize why you weren’t on the show anymore. I will be back and read the updates as they arrive. D and I never miss your shows, even the re-runs, LOL. I have actually learned a lot from the shows. Full support and best wishes from the “country cousins” way down South (MS). Good luck. No, I am not claiming relations, just a common name. (Ya know we ALL spread out accross the country – way back when, hehe).