United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER RE: ECF NO. 42
William G. Cobb United States Magistrate Judge.
the court is Defendants' motion for leave to file under
seal the unredacted version of Exhibit B filed in support of
their motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 42.)
courts have recognized a general right to inspect and copy
public records and documents, including judicial records and
documents." 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.
Ct., D. Nev., 798 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir.
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. 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
"'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.'"
good cause standard, on the other hand, is the exception to
public access that has been typically applied to "sealed
materials attached to a discovery motion unrelated to the
merits of the case." Id. (citation omitted).
"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
Ninth Circuit has clarified that the key in determining which
standard to apply 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 an exhibit under seal in connection
with a motion for summary judgment. This is more than
tangentially related to the merits of a case. Therefore, the
compelling reasons standard applies. They seek to file an
unredacted version of a list of inmates that were on a list
of those authorized to attend a religious event that is the
subject of Plaintiffs action. They assert that it should be
kept under seal to protect the privacy regarding the
religious affiliation and attendance at a particular
religious event of inmates that are not parties to this
action. The court agrees that this is a compelling reason to
seal the unredacted version of Exhibit B. Therefore,
Defendants' motion (ECF No. 42) is