83.12 Sealed Documents

(a) Filings, Orders, and Docket Entries

All filings, orders, and docket entries shall be public unless:

(1) a filing, order, or docket entry must be sealed pursuant to state law, federal law, the Federal Rules of Criminal or Civil Procedure, or these rules;

(2) a filing, order, or docket entry has been sealed by order of another court or agency; or

(3) this court issues an order sealing a filing, order, or docket entry.

(b) Levels of Sealed Filings, Orders, and Docket Entries

(1) Level I

Filings, orders, and docket entries sealed at Level I may be reviewed by any attorney or pro se party appearing in the action without prior leave of court.

(2) Level II

Filings, orders, and docket entries sealed at Level II may be reviewed only by the filer or, in the case of an order, the person to whom the order is directed without prior leave of court.

(c) Motions to Seal

A motion to seal must be filed conventionally together with the item to be sealed and both will be accepted provisionally under seal, subject to the court’s subsequent ruling on the motion. The motion must explain the basis for sealing, specify the proposed date on which the requested seal order shall expire, and designate whether the material is to be sealed at Level I or Level II. If a party is requesting that only certain portions of a document be sealed, the party must provide a full copy of the document clearly displaying the portions sought to be sealed. Departure motions based on substantial assistance need not contain a proposed seal duration and, unless extended upon motion for good cause shown, shall remain sealed for five (5) years or until the completion of any term of imprisonment, whichever occurs later. Any motion to seal, upon specific request, may also be sealed if it contains a discussion of the confidential material. If the court denies the motion to seal, any materials tendered under provisional seal will be returned to the movant.

(d) Filing Procedures

All material submitted by a party either under seal or requesting sealed status, provisionally or otherwise, must be submitted in compliance with this subsection and Administrative Procedure for Electronic Case Filing 3.3. The documents and a data storage device shall be placed in a sealed envelope with a copy of the document’s cover page affixed to the outside of the envelope. The party shall designate the envelope with a conspicuous notation such as "DOCUMENTS UNDER SEAL," "DOCUMENTS SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER," or the equivalent. If the basis for the document’s sealed status is not apparent, an explanatory cover letter should also be attached to alert the clerk’s staff of its special status.

Parties cannot seal otherwise public documents merely by agreement or by labeling them “sealed.”


(Prior rule stricken and replaced with §§ (a)-(d) 1/1/01; § (d) amended 1/1/08; § (c) amended 12/1/09; formerly LR 83.11 renumbered to 83.12, and § (c) amended 12/1/13; §§ (b)(1) and (c) amended 12/1/15)