Effective January 1, 2015, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana adopted a number of amendments to the Local Rules (see the red-lined changes here). One major change relates to Local Rule 5-11 – Filing Papers Under Seal, which was deleted in its entirety and replaced with a new Local Rule.
Under the new 5-11(a), a party must still file a motion requesting that the court seal the case at or before the time the party files its initial pleading. Under the old rule, if the judge later denied the motion to seal, the case was immediately unsealed. Under the new rule, “[i]f the court denies the motion, the clerk will unseal the case 14 days after service of the order, absent a Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a) objection; motion to reconsider; or notice by a party of intent to file an interlocutory appeal.” S.D. Ind. L.R. 5-11(a) (emphasis added). Under the old rules, a party had no notice of the court’s decision until after the papers were made public, and therefore, if a party was successful in appealing the judge’s order or the judge reconsidered his or her ruling, the papers were most likely already in the public sphere (e.g., http://www.justia.com/). Under the new rule, a party may fully exhaust its remedies of a court’s denial of a motion to seal before the papers are made available to the public.
Under the new 5-11(c), a procedure now exists that allows parties to redact “confidential information in a document [if it] is irrelevant or immaterial to resolution of the matter at issue.” S.D. Ind. L.R. 5-11(c). In circumstances of documents redacted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2 (e.g., birthdates, social security numbers, or account information), such documents “must not be filed under seal.” Id. However, if a party files “such a redacted document [that party] must serve an unredacted and complete version of the document upon all counsel and pro se parties.” Id. The intent of this particular rule change is to provide explicit guidance to counsel that the limited resources of the court should not be spent reviewing motions to seal documents that are only seeking to protect information that is not germane to the case or issue.
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