The Volokh Conspiracy

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Careful with Filing Sealed Documents

For the third time in the last three weeks, I've noticed federal court documents that were supposed to be filed sealed but weren't. UPDATE (Monday, Aug. 6): Just came across a fourth instance, in a state trial court.


The first two were in the Central District of California and the Ninth Circuit, in the L.A. Times controversy I blogged about; now I saw it happen again in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.

I don't know if the problems were the fault of the lawyers, the clerks, the computer system designers, or some mix of the three. But it's a reminder that, if you're filing something sealed, you should be very careful, and you should likely check to make sure that the material did indeed get properly filed sealed, and be ready to call the clerk's office right away in case it wasn't. True, even a minute during which the document is unsealed on the docket can enable it to leak out, but a minute is better than an hour or a day.