Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Law.com - Judge Lectures Counsel on Request to Make Documents 'Disappear'

[NEWS] A federal judge in New York expressed doubts about sealing a TRO after the parties had reached a settlement. In the case, two financial executives had been accused them of stealing client information from AIG Capital Partners. The case settled the day after a forensive computer specialist reported that one of the defendants had accessed thousands of documents on the company's computers after he was no longer working there.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said that he understood the argument that sealing documents may encourage pivate settlements. But, on the other hand,

'That may be defeated where a private settlement deprives the public of information that has been placed before a federal court, and that indicates a risk of harm to members of the public, and I wondered whether that analogy isn't present here.'

The judge also wondered whether sealing the TRO would really keep the allegations about the defendants' conduct under wraps:
The judge * * * told [the defendants' attorney] he understood the defendants' 'PR concerns' but he also questioned the value to them of sealing the temporary restraining order while keeping the complaint, the evidence, and the fact the defendants had 'put up a mighty fight to keep the [TRO] language secret' in the public record.

'[W]ith all due respect,' the judge said, 'I think what I would say if I were representing your clients is what are you doing here? You're making it so much worse for yourself.'
Law.com - Judge Lectures Counsel on Request to Make Documents 'Disappear', N.Y.L.J., Feb. 14, 2006.

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