United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
B. Smith United States Magistrate Judge.
case comes before the Court without a hearing on
Defendant's Unopposed Motion to File Documents Under Seal
(Doc. 41). Defendant Randy Dale Land is awaiting sentencing
after pleading guilty to the crime of receipt of child
pornography (Docs. 26, 31, 35). In anticipation of the
sentencing hearing, Defendant has been seen by Mark Bezy and
Dr. Robert Cohen (Doc. 41, ¶¶ 2-3). Mr. Bezy has
produced a written report concerning the prison environment
and Defendant's vulnerability to that environment. Dr.
Cohen conducted a neuropsychological examination of Defendant
and has produced a report containing his findings. Both
gentlemen's reports have been produced to the Court for
in camera review. Defense counsel plans to use the
reports as mitigation evidence (Id., ¶ 4).
argues that Mr. Bezy and Dr. Cohen's reports should be
accepted for filing under seal because they contain
Defendant's highly personal and confidential personal and
medical information (Id.). Defendant also argues
that sealing is appropriate pursuant to the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, P.L. 104-191, 45
C.F.R. Parts 160 and 164 (Id., ¶ 5). The
government does not oppose the motion (Id., ¶
filing of documents under seal is disfavored by the
Court.” Graphic Packaging Int'l, Inc. v. C.W.
Zumbiel Co., No. 3:10-cv-891-J-JBT, 2010 WL 6790538, at
*1 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 28, 2010). While parties “have
protectable privacy interests in confidential information
disclosed through discovery, ” once the information
becomes a judicial record or public document, the public has
a common-law right to inspect and copy the information.
In re Alexander Grant & Co. Litig., 820 F.2d
352, 355 (11th Cir. 1987). “Once a matter is brought
before a court for resolution, it is no longer solely the
parties' case, but also the public's case.”
Brown v. Advantage Eng'g, Inc., 960 F.2d 1013,
(11th Cir. 1992); Patent Asset Licensing, LLC v.
Wideopenwest Fin., LLC, No. 3:15-cv-743-J-32MCR, 2016 WL
2991058, at *1 (M.D. Fla. May 24, 2016). “[I]t is the
rights of the public, an absent third party, which are
preserved by prohibiting closure of public records, unless
unusual circumstances exist.” Wilson v. Am. Motors
Corp., 759 F.2d 1568, 1570 (11th Cir. 1985).
judge is the primary representative of the public interest in
the judicial process and is duty-bound therefore to review
any request to seal the record (or part of it). He may not
rubber stamp a stipulation to seal the record.”
Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS,
Inc., 184 F.Supp.2d 1353, 1363 (N.D.Ga. Feb. 15, 2002)
(quoting Citizens First Nat'l Bank of Princeton v.
Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999)).
“The right to inspect and copy is not absolute,
however, and a judge's exercise of discretion in deciding
whether to release judicial records should be informed by a
sensitive appreciation of the circumstances that led to the
production of the particular document in question.”
Chemence Med. Prods., Inc. v. Medline Indus., No.
1:13-CV-500-TWT, 2015 WL 149984, at *1 (N.D.Ga. Jan. 12,
public's right of access may be overcome by a showing of
“good cause” sufficient for the granting of a
protective order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c) (“The
court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party
or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense …”). “'Good
cause' is a well established legal phrase. Although
difficult to define in absolute terms, it generally signifies
a sound basis or legitimate need to take judicial
action.” In re Alexander Grant, 820 F.2d at
Eleventh Circuit has “superimposed a somewhat more
demanding balancing of interests approach to the” good
cause requirement. Farnsworth v. Procter & Gamble
Co., 758 F.2d 1545, 1547 (11th Cir. 1985). This means
that before making its decision, the court has a duty to
balance the public's right of access against the
party's interest in confidentiality. “In balancing
the public interest in accessing court documents against a
party's interest in keeping the information confidential,
courts consider, among other facts, whether allowing access
would impair court functions or harm legitimate privacy
interests, the degree of and likelihood of injury if made
public, the reliability of the information, whether there
will be an opportunity to respond to the information, whether
the information concerns public officials or public concerns,
and the availability of a less onerous alternative to sealing
the documents.” Romero, 480 F.3d at 1246
Cohen's report contains Defendant's personal health
information, including information concerning his mental
condition. The Court finds that Defendant's privacy
interest in this information outweighs the public's right
of access. The Court finds good cause to seal the final
paragraph of Mr. Bezy's report because it too contains
information of a personal, confidential nature in which
Defendant's privacy interest outweighs the public's
right of access. Accordingly, Defendant's motion to seal
is GRANTED in part. The Clerk shall accept
for filing, and file UNDER SEAL, Dr.
Cohen's report and Mr. Bezy's report. ...