What People Are Saying about Court Secrecy and the Sunshine in Litigation Act

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What People Are Saying about Court Secrecy and the Sunshine in Litigation Act 

  • Judge Joseph Anderson, US District Court Judge for the District of South Carolina—“Senator Kohl’s bill, which served as the model for my original version of the South Carolina local rule, offers perhaps the best resolution to the secrecy problem that has simmered for quite some time.”i

    “Our court unanimously passed Rule 5.03(E) and we now have a five-year operating perspective.  The dire predictions of those who suggested that the rule would cause settlements to disappear proved to be wrong.  In fact, according to statistics provided by the Clerk of Court, our court tried fewer cases in the five years after the rule’s enactment than in the five years before it was adopted.”ii
  • Senator Patrick Leahy—“Allowing certain court documents to be kept secret in cases where public health and safety is at stake can and does put lives in jeopardy.  We need to make sure that consumers have access to information that affects their health and safety, and that is why I am a cosponsor of Senator Kohl’s Sunshine in Litigation Act.”iii
     
  • Johnny Bradley – Victim of Court Secrecy—“I am here today because I want to prevent a tragedy like mine from happening to other families.  Court secrecy and protective orders allowed Cooper to cover up vital information in federal court that could have saved Timica’s [wife] life.  And because I am not allowed to disclose evidence of tire defects, I must sit by and helplessly wait until the next tragedy occurs.”iv
  • Professor Richard Zitrin, Univ. of California – Hastings—“Sunshine in litigation means that that information exchanged in the litigation discovery process may not be “secretized” where that action would endanger the public health and safety.  It’s simple: no settlement agreement, and no stipulation to a protective order, where the goal of the litigants is to allow their own private economic advantage to triumph over public harm.”v
  • Professor Daniel Givelber, Northwestern University School of Law—“Civil litigation uncovers a great deal of otherwise unavailable information about practices and products which may cause disease or injury. However, common practices in and related to lawsuits, trials, and courts, such as protective orders, sealing orders, and confidential settlements can deprive public health authorities and the public itself of information that might be helpful to prevent disease, injury, disability, and death.”vi


i. U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., while lecturing at the Villanova Law Review Norman J. Sachoy Symposium on “The Future of Judicial Transparency” (Feb. 2, 2008).

ii. U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., testimony before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition, and Consumer Rights, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary (December 11, 2007).

iii. Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, statement before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition, and Consumer Rights, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary (December 11, 2007).

iv. Mr. Johnny Bradley, testimony before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition, and Consumer Rights, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary (December 11, 2007).

v. Professor Richard Zitrin, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of California, Hastings College, testimony before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition, and Consumer Rights, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary (December 11, 2007).

vi. Daniel J. Givelber & Anthony Robbins, Public Health Versus Court-Sponsored Secrecy, 69 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 131 (2006).



 


 


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