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Jane Roe v. Intellicorp Records

December 12, 2012

JANE ROE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTELLICORP RECORDS, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ames S. Gwin, United States District Judge:

: OPINION & ORDER

: [Resolving Doc. No. 70]

The defendant in this Fair Credit Reporting Act case moves for a protective order covering documents that it says could cause commercial or competitive harm if disclosed. [Doc. 70.] The motion is unopposed. Granting a protective order motion is within the trial court's discretion, but that discretion "'is circumscribed by a long-established legal tradition' which values public access to court proceedings." Procter & Gamble Co. v. Bankers Trust Co., 78 F.3d 219, 227 (6th Cir. 1996) (quoting Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. Fed. Trade Comm'n, 710 F.2d 1165, 1177 (6th Cir. 1983)). Unwarranted restriction of court documents hampers the public's ability to act as an important check on judicial integrity. See Brown & Williamson, 710 F.2d at 1179; see also Wilson v. Am. Motors Corp., 759 F.2d 1568, 1570 (11th Cir. 1985) (observing that "trials are public proceedings" and that access to court records preserves "the rights of the public, an absent third party"). Thus, in the Sixth Circuit, courts approach protective order motions with a presumption in favor of public access to judicial records. See, e.g., In re Perrigo Co., 128 F.3d 430, 447 (6th Cir. 1997).

Moreover, the fact that the protective order is unopposed does not overcome this presumption. See Proctor & Gamble Co., 78 F.3d at 227 (warning district courts against "abdicat[ing their] responsibility to oversee the discovery process and to determine whether filings should be made available to the public" and against "turn[ing] this function over to the parties," which would be "a ...


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