In the bankruptcy of Garlock Sealing Technology, allegations were raised that national counsel for mesothelioma victims had engaged in fraud, deceit, and other activities prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968, in settling their clients’ claims. After the bankruptcy judge ordered the hearing closed, Legal Newsline filed an emergency motion to keep the hearing at which these issues were raised open to the media and the public.
Following Media General Operations, Inc. v. Buchanan, 417 F.3d 424, 431 (4th Cir. 2005), the district court held that sealing the hearing and documents “shifted the presumption that favors open courts to a presumption favoring the closure of proceedings based on confidentiality designations by counsel, improvidently shifting the burden to the public and the press to disprove the contours of a need to seal which has also not been described.” In restricting public access to a hearing or documents, a court is required to “state the reasons for its decision to seal supported by specific findings, and the reasons for rejecting alternatives to sealing to provide this court with sufficient information for meaningful appellate review.” Media General Operations, Inc.… Read More