Justice announces plan
to review level 2 cases
Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers announced today that the Judicial
Branch is reviewing family and civil cases that were sealed
prior to July 1, 2003, the effective date of the rule changes
regarding the sealing of a file. The Honorable Barbara M.
Quinn, deputy chief court administrator and a former member of
the Judicial Branch’s Public Access Task Force, is overseeing
this process, which began as soon as Chief Justice Rogers was
sworn in. Today, Judge Quinn approved a plan to review
This plan will be presented to the chief
administrative judges and the administrative judges at a meeting
scheduled for Thursday, May 10, 2007.
“Providing a mechanism
for resolving the lingering public doubts regarding the validity
of the sealing orders in these cases is one of my top
priorities. This is a logical extension of the process
begun by the Judicial Branch’s Public Access Task Force,” Chief
Justice Rogers said.
“Openness and transparency are vital; however, the courts are
required to consider whether the rights of the parties override
the public’s interest in accessing such information,” Chief
Justice Rogers said. “For that reason, all parties in these
cases will be sent notice that this process is underway and they
will be afforded the opportunity to be heard.” In addition,
information regarding this process will be available on the
Judicial Branch website at
plan calls for a review to determine: (1) whether the cases were
properly designated as sealed; (2) whether the docket sheets,
which set forth the chronology of the case, may be displayed on
the Judicial Branch website; and (3) whether the motions and
orders to seal the file may be made publicly available. At this
point, there are approximately 500 of these cases statewide.
more information, please contact the External Affairs Division
1. A computer printout with the names and docket numbers
of approximately 500 Level 2 cases has been created.
2. The case files will be reviewed district by district
with the largest districts’ files addressed first. The review
will identify motions to seal, if any, and the order sealing the
file, along with information regarding the names and addresses
of all parties and counsel in the file.
3. Notices will be sent to all parties and counsel
indicating that the court, on its own motion, will be making
docket sheets and motions to seal, along with any orders sealing
a file, available to the public unless an objection is filed. If an objection is filed, a hearing will be held in the judicial
district where the case was originally filed.
4. Level 2 cases and any scheduled hearing dates will be
posted on the Judicial Branch website.
5. It is
anticipated that the first group of level 2 files will be
reviewed during the last two weeks of May, with notices to be
sent to all parties shortly. Hearings on objections to
making these matters public will be held thereafter.