United States District Court, D. Nevada
the court is defendants' motion for leave to file
plaintiff's presentence investigation report under seal
in support of defendants' opposition to plaintiff's
motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 100).
courts have recognized a general right to inspect and copy
public records and documents, including judicial records and
documents.” See Kamakana v. City and County of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
“‘Throughout our history, the open courtroom has
been a fundamental feature of the American judicial system.
Basic principles have emerged to guide judicial discretion
respecting public access to judicial proceedings. These
principles apply as well to the determination of whether to
permit access to information contained in court documents
because court records often provide important, sometimes the
only, bases or explanations for a court's
decision.'” Oliner v. Kontrabecki, 745
F.3d 1024, 1025 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. F.T.C., 710 F.2d 1165, 1177
(6th Cir. 1983)).
that have been traditionally kept secret, including grand
jury transcripts and warrant materials in a pre-indictment
investigation, come within an exception to the general right
of public access. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178.
Otherwise, “a strong presumption in favor of access is
the starting point.” Id. (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). “The presumption of access
is ‘based on the need for federal courts, although
independent-indeed, particularly because they are
independent-to have a measure of accountability and for the
public to have confidence in the administration of
justice.'” Center for Auto Safety v. Chrysler
Group, LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1096 (9th Cir. 2016),
cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 38 (Oct. 3, 2016) (quoting
United States v. Amodeo (Amodeo II), 71 F.3d 1044,
1048 (2nd Cir. 1995); Valley Broad Co. v. U.S. Dist.
Court-D. Nev., 798 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1986)).
are two possible standards a party must address when it seeks
to file a document under seal: the compelling reasons
standard or the good cause standard. See Center for Auto
Safety, 809 F.3d at 1096-97. Under the compelling
reasons standard, “a court may seal records only when
it finds ‘a compelling reason and articulate[s] the
factual basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis
or conjecture.” Id. (quoting
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179). “The court must
then ‘conscientiously balance[ ] the competing
interests of the public and the party who seeks to keep
certain judicial records secret.” Id.
“What constitutes a ‘compelling reason' is
‘best left to the sound discretion of the trial
court.'” Id. (quoting Nixon v. Warner
Comm., Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 599 (1978)). “Examples
include when a court record might be used to ‘gratify
private spite or promote public scandal,' to circulate
‘libelous' statements, or ‘as sources of
business information that might harm a litigant's
competitive standing.'” Id. (quoting
Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598-99).
for Auto Safety described the good cause standard, on
the other hand, as the exception to public access that had
been applied to “sealed materials attached to a
discovery motion unrelated to the merits of a case.”
Id. (citing Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v.
Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213-14 (9th Cir.
2002)). “The ‘good cause language comes from Rule
26(c)(1), which governs the issuance of protective orders in
the discovery process: ‘The court may, for good cause,
issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.”
Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)).
Ninth Circuit has clarified that the key in determining which
standard to apply in assessing a motion for leave to file a
document under seal is whether the documents proposed for
sealing accompany a motion that is “more than
tangentially related to the merits of a case.”
Center for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101. If that is
the case, the compelling reasons standard is applied. If not,
the good cause standard is applied.
defendants seek to file exhibits under seal in connection
with their opposition to plaintiffs motion for summary
judgment (ECF No. 99) which is unquestionably “more
than tangentially related to the merits of a case.”
Therefore, the compelling reasons standard applies.
court, and others within the Ninth Circuit, require a
“compelling reason” for sealing records.
Kamakana v. city and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d
1172, 1177-85 (9thCir. 2006). In the instant case,
the presentence investigation report contains confidential
information concerning the plaintiff, as defined under NRS
176.156. Courts have consistently recognized the need to
protect sensitive information in the PSIs is a compelling
reason to seal those records. See Bullock v. Baker,
No. 3:14-CV-0139-MMD-VPC, 2015 WL 5165864, at *2 (D. Nev.
Sept. 3, 2015); Bousley v. Neven, No.
2:11-CV-1751-GMN-GWF, 2012 WL 1155735, at *1 (D. Nev. April
6, 2012); Colato v. Le Grand, No.
3:10-Cv-0470-RCJ-VPC, 2011 WL 2651571, at *1 (D. Nev. July 5,
2011). Defendants have made an adequate showing of compelling
reasons to file the presentence report under seal. The
potential harm to the parties' interests outweighs the
public's right to access to plaintiff's presentence
defendants' motion to seal (ECF No. 100) is
GRANTED. The presentence report was filed
and shall remain under seal (ECF No. 101).
 Although the court has recommended
that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be denied as
moot in a separate report and recommendation, the motion ...