Yesterday the Federal Circuit issued a Public Notice of Show Cause Order to Unseal Certain Paper Case Records. Notably, in the notice the court announced that it intends to unseal a significant number of sealed paper case records so that it may send these records to the National Archives and Records Administration. To do so, the court sua sponte opened a new case and sua sponte issued an order identifying the relevant paper case records–essentially hundreds of cases with records predating the court’s transition to its electronic filing system. The court noted how Federal Circuit Rule 25.1(a)(1) indicates that, after five years following the end of all Federal Circuit proceedings, the court may direct parties to show cause why confidential filings should not be unsealed and made available to the public. The court is now making use this procedure. The court indicated that impacted individuals interested in keeping case records sealed must show cause no later than 60 days from August 17, 2022, the date of the order. Here is the full text of the announcement as well as text from the order. The list of cases is included in the order, linked below.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit intends to unseal certain paper case records in accordance with Federal Circuit Rule 25.1(a)(1) in order to accomplish accession to the National Archives and Records Administration. Parties, counsel, or other impacted individuals with an interest in keeping sealed records in any case identified in the court’s order must show cause no later than 60 days from the date of the order why those records must remain sealed. No response is needed unless parties or counsel intent to contest the unsealing. Please refer to the order for further details, including how to submit a response.
Notice of this order is being sent to all active members of the bar registered with the court’s electronic filing service as well as to original counsel of record in the identified cases. Questions concerning the order or the process for responding should be directed by phone to the Federal Circuit Clerk’s Office at (202) 275-8035.
In re Unsealing of Court Case Records (Nonprecedential Order)
The court is in the process of accessioning its remaining paper case records to the National Archives and Records Administration for permanent retention. These records pre-date the court’s transition to its electronic case management filing system in 2012 and once transferred to the National Archives will remain in only paper format and will not be made available online. Pursuant to Federal Circuit Rule 25.1(a)(1), “[a]fter five years following the end of all proceedings in this court, the court may direct the parties to show cause why confidential filings (except those protected by statute) should not be unsealed and made available to the public.” Through the review of these records, the court has identified several cases containing confidential filings that remain under seal more than five years following the end of all proceedings.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
(1) Within sixty (60) days from the date of this order, parties to the identified cases in the Addendum to this order are directed as follows to show cause why any confidential material in those cases should not be unsealed:
(a) Responses may be filed by the party directly, by counsel, or by any individual or entity claiming to be affected by the unsealing of any material.
(b) Each response must identify the above-captioned case number and the case number to which the response pertains. Each separate case or set of consolidated cases should receive a separate response. Each response must identify the filer as well as the filer’s interest if the filer is not a party to the case.
(c) Filers may submit responses under seal without leave of the court. Responses do not need to comply with Federal Circuit Rules 25.1(d)-(e), except that any confidential markings must be clearly identified through bracketing or highlighting. Filers should still strive to limit inclusion of confidential markings and avoid filing under seal unless absolutely necessary.
(d) Counsel admitted to the court’s bar must file responses to this order through the court’s electronic filing system under this case number (2022-160). Other filers may submit electronically, if registered, or otherwise file in paper, either by mail or deposited into the court’s night box located in the garage entrance to the National Courts Building on H St NW. Mailed responses may be sent to the following address:
US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Attn: Clerk’s Office, Records Retention
717 Madison Place NW Washington, DC 20439
(2) Failure to file a timely response will result in the automatic unsealing of all records in the case fourteen (14) days after the expiration of the period to show cause ends, without further order from the court.
(3) The Clerk of Court is directed to provide public notice of this order, including electronic notification to all members of the bar and mail notification in any cases involving an unrepresented party.