Western District amends local file-sealing rule

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan has amended its local court rule regarding sealed cases.

The amendment, released yesterday, took effect Oct. 7.

Under the amended version of Local Civil Rule 83.3(c):

The court may enter an order sealing an entire civil case file only if (a) sealing is required by statute or court rule, or (b) sealing is justified by a showing of extraordinary circumstances and the absence of narrower feasible and effective alternatives (such as sealing discrete documents or redacting specific information), such that sealing an entire case file is a last resort.

Any order sealing an entire case file under ground (b) of this rule must contain specific findings justifying sealing. The order may be vacated on motion of any party or on the court’’s own motion when the reason for sealing has ended.

The former version of the rule allowed suppression of court files upon a motion from a party “for good cause shown.”

Western District Chief Judge Paul L. Maloney explains in Administrative Order 11-100 that the change was necessary to comply with a policy adopted last month by the the Judicial Conference of the United States.

The court will consider comments on the amended rule through Nov. 15, and then determine whether further amendment of the rule is needed.

Send the comments to:

Tracey Cordes
Clerk of the Court
399 Federal Bldg
110 Michigan St NW
Grand Rapids MI 49503

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