The Federal Circuit has scrapped its plan to unseal records in hundreds of cases. Last week, we reported how the Federal Circuit announced its intention to unseal a significant number of sealed paper case records and then send those records to the National Archives and Records Administration. The court directed parties to show cause why those records should not be unsealed and made available to the public. Late yesterday, however, the Federal Circuit announced it has issued a new order rescinding its show cause order. The court explained this reversal as “due to administrative impracticality.” Instead of unsealing these records, the court now indicates, the records “will be transferred in due course to the National Archives and Records Administration for permanent retention in their current state.” Here is the full text of the announcement as well as text from the accompanying, new order.
Upon further consideration, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has rescinded its August 17, 2022 show cause order due to administrative impracticality. Any impacted parties, counsel, and other interested parties are excused from any existing requirement to show cause pursuant to Federal Circuit Rule 25.1(a)(1). All previously-identified cases will be transferred in due course to the National Archives and Records Administration for permanent retention in their current state. Please refer to the new order for further details.
Notice of this order is being sent to all active members of the bar registered with the court’s electronic filing system as well as to original counsel of record in the identified cases. Questions concerning the new order 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In re Unsealing of Court Case Records (Nonprecedential Order)
Upon further consideration of the court’s August 17, 2022 Order, the court finds it impracticable at this time to continue to proceed with the proposed unsealing of previously-identified cases. Specifically, the court finds that there will be insufficient time and considerable, unanticipated administrative difficulty to both the court and to counsel in providing an opportunity for counsel and parties in the previously-identified cases to permit a physical review of the identified cases by the National Archives and Records Administration’s December 31, 2022 deadline for the court to complete the accessioning of its remaining paper case records.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
(1) The court’s August 17, 2022 Order is hereby RESCINDED in full. Any impacted parties, counsel, and other interested parties are excused from any requirement to show cause pursuant to Federal Circuit Rule 25.1(a)(1). Any filed responses to the court’s order are DENIED as moot.
(2) The cases identified in the Addendum to the August 17, 2022 Order shall remain under seal until further order of the court but without prejudice to a motion to unseal in an identified case consistent with the court’s rules.
(3) The Clerk of Court is directed to accession the cases identified in the August 17, 2022 Order Addendum to the National Archives and Records Administration for permanent retention under seal.
(4) 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.