United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER (MOT. TO SEAL - ECF NO. 204)
A. LEEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Seal (ECF No. 204).
This Motion is referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and LR IB 1-3 of the Local Rules
of Practice. The Motion seeks leave to file under seal a
portion of Sgt. Jon Gentile's deposition transcript.
See Sealed Exhibit (ECF No. 203). Defendant Las
Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”)
did not file a response to the Motion and the deadline to do
so has now passed.
filed the deposition transcript excerpt under seal because a
portion of the transcript was designated as confidential
pursuant to the parties' stipulated protective order.
See Mot. to Seal (ECF No. 204) at 4. Plaintiffs
assert that good cause exists to permit filing the excerpt
under seal because it contains confidential information about
Defendant Norman's prior employment with LVMPD. With
regard to a different portion of Gentile's deposition
transcript, LVMPD previously informed the court that it had
no opposition to unsealing the document. See Sept.
24, 2015 Order (ECF No. 188) at 13; compare Sealed
Appendix 2 (ECF No. 162) (attaching pages 1-4, 19-21, 26,
28-30, 38-40, 53-55 of Gentile's deposition transcript as
exhibit to Plaintiffs' Response (ECF No. 160) to
LVMPD's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 105))
with Sealed Exhibit (ECF No. 203) (attaching pages
1-3, 37, 40-44, 60 of Gentile's deposition transcript as
exhibit to Plaintiffs' Reply (ECF No. 202)). Plaintiffs
submitted the new portion of the transcript in support of
their Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (ECF No. 196), which
asked the district judge to reevaluate the authenticity of
Defendant Norman's performance reviews submitted as
Exhibit 18 to Plaintiffs' Opposition to LVMPD's
Motion for Summary Judgment. See Mar. 31, 2016 Order
(ECF No. 192) at 14. This court previously evaluated whether
there were compelling reasons to seal the performance reviews
in its September 24, 2015 Order (ECF No. 188), and held that
LVMPD had not shown what specific harm or prejudice would
result from disclosure. Because LVMPD had not met its burden
to file under seal, the court directed the clerk's office
to unseal the performance reviews and Gentile's
general matter, there is a strong presumption of access to
judicial records. Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2006). “In
keeping with the strong public policy favoring access to
court records, most judicial records may be sealed only if
the court finds ‘compelling reasons'.”
Oliner v. Kontrabecki, 745 F.3d 1024, 1025-26 (9th
Cir. 2014) (citing Pintos v. Pac. Creditors
Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 677-78 (9th Cir. 2010)).
Compelling reasons generally exist when court records might
become a vehicle for improper purposes, “such as to
gratify private spite, promote public scandal, commit libel,
or release trade secrets.” In re Roman Catholic
Archbishop of Portland, 661 F.3d 417, 429 (9th Cir.
2011) (citing Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc.,
435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)); see also Oliner, 745 F.3d
at 1026 (embarrassment, annoyance, or undue burden are not
compelling reasons to seal the entire court record).
Ninth Circuit has held that the strong presumption of access
to judicial records “applies fully” to
dispositive motions such as motions for summary judgment and
related attachments, which may decide the substantive merits
of a case without a trial. Kamakana, 447 F.3d at
1179. This principle of access was adopted for dispositive
motions because “the resolution of a dispute on the
merits, whether by trial or summary judgment, is at the heart
of the interest in ensuring the “public's
understanding of the judicial process and of significant
public events.” Id. (citing Valley
Broadcasting Co. v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 798 F.2d 1289, 1294
(9th Cir. 1986)). However, the court must also look past the
literal dispositive or non-dispositive label for all motions
to determine whether the “compelling reasons”
standard applies. Center for Auto Safety v. Chrysler
Group, LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1101 (9th Cir. 2016) (finding
that “public access to filed motions and their
attachments does not merely depend on whether the motion is
technically ‘dispositive' ”). Courts must
examine “whether the motion at issue is more than
tangentially related to the underlying cause of
action.” Id. See also, e.g., Oliner, 745 F.3d
at 1026; Pintos, 605 F.3d at 678; Kamakana,
447 F.3d at 1179; Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1134-36 (9th Cir. 2003). When a
motion that is more than tangentially related to the merits
of a case, a movant must show “compelling
reasons” to seal any judicial records attached thereto.
Center for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101 (finding
that compelling reasons standard applied to request to seal
documents attached to motion for preliminary injunction,
which was technically non-dispositive).
Kamakana and its progeny, the parties must show
compelling reasons to file Gentile's deposition excerpt
under seal. Plaintiffs' motion to alter or amend the
judgment essentially asked the district judge to reconsider
the unfavorable ruling on the summary judgment motions. Thus,
the underlying motion was more than tangentially related to
the case and the higher standard applies to the current
have not shown compelling reasons for the deposition
transcript to remain under seal and LVMPD failed to respond
to the Motion. The court's entry of the protective order
did not create a presumption in favor of confidentiality.
See, e.g., Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1134;
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1182. The court has reviewed
the excerpt and finds that it does not contain sensitive law
enforcement information that might become a vehicle for
IT IS ORDERED:
Plaintiffs' Motion to Seal (ECF No. 204) is DENIED.
Clerk of the Court shall UNSEAL the Sealed Exhibit (ECF No.
203) to make ...