The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

No Redaction of Filings Based on Speculation That They Will Lead to "Harassment and Violence" by "Haters"


From Luo v. Wang, just decided this morning by Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty (D. Colo.):

Plaintiff requests that the Court [redact certain documents]…. Intervenor Volokh continues to argue that documents filed unrestricted should stay in the public record … (citing Gunn v. WCA Logistics, LLC (D. Colo. 2016) [Hegarty, J.] ("The cat has already been let out of the bag.")). Defendant joins Volokh's position….

[Plaintiff] alleges that she faces "harassment and violence" but does not connect any specific harm of harassment or violence to the currently public documents. She cites to a restraining order that she sought against Intervenor but does not connect the information she seeks to restrict to any of her allegations in the restraining order. While the Plaintiff has a general fear that "haters" will threaten and harass her, this Court maintains once again, "the public [should not] be prevented from reaching its own conclusion in this case." ….

[Plaintiff] fails to "identify a clearly defined and serious injury that would result if access is not restricted," especially considering that many of the documents were submitted by her (while represented by counsel) without redaction…. "There is a presumption that documents essential to the judicial process are to be available to the public…. It is critical that the public be able to review the factual basis of this Court's decisions and evaluate the Court's rationale so that it may be confident that the Court is functioning as a neutral arbiter."

Here, Plaintiff makes conclusory allegations that the public documents at issue violate her privacy rights and predicts that the availability of these documents will lead to harassment and violence. She provides no facts to support her claim that the public documents at issue will cause her to experience harassment and violence.

To the contrary, the Ninth Circuit has cautioned that Plaintiff's habit of attempting to restrict judicial records could abuse the judicial process. O.L. v. Jara (9th Cir. May 12, 2022). Because Plaintiff fails to provide specific facts, much less explain why filing the documents as restricted outweighs the presumption of public access, Plaintiff's Motion is denied….

You can also read the plaintiff's motion, and the magistrate judge's earlier decision to depseudonymize the plaintiff (now on appeal to the Tenth Circuit).

Disclosure: Luo has unsuccessfully sued me to try to force me to remove certain posts about her, and to block me from writing more about her, and is appealing her loss. But of course I was writing about her cases even before she sued (that was the whole point of her lawsuit), and am now just continuing my earlier practice.