Judicial Conference Moves to Keep Court Proceedings Public

The Judicial Conference of the United States recently took steps to limit the civil cases in which entire court records are sealed.

The Conference, the principal policy-making body for U.S. federal courts, adopted a new national policy that instructs judges to seal entire cases only as a last resort. The new policy says “Any order sealing an entire civil case should contain findings justifying the sealing, and the seal should be lifted when the reason for sealing has ended.”

In speaking to reporters about the new recommendations, Chief Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said “. . . the court’s business is the people’s business.” The judge is exactly right.

Open courtrooms and public trials are an integral part of a thriving democracy. Kudos to the Judicial Conference for taking steps that – while arguably creating more work for federal judges – further that ideal.

Posted: 9/30/2011 12:40:48 PM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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