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Doe v. Lower Merion School Dist.

February 23, 2010

STUDENT DOE 1, ET AL.
v.
LOWER MERION SCHOOL DISTRICT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Baylson, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER UNSEALING BRIEFS AND EXHIBITS

The First Amendment does not permit anyone (including judges) to have private access to an inherently public dispute in a federal court. The occasional sealing of some Court documents containing proprietary and confidential commercial information in various types of business litigation should not be extended to civil rights litigation.

Asserting First Amendment rights, two Petitions by members of the media seek access to briefs and exhibits filed under seal in this case without the Court's permission. Initially, on February 12, 2010, an individual reporter, Richard Ilgenfritz, pro se, filed a Petition for Access to Judicial Records (Doc. No. 48). On February 22, 2010, Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC ("PNL"), represented by counsel, filed a Motion to Intervene and to Unseal Record (Doc. No. 51), seeking essentially the same relief that Mr. Ilgenfritz sought in his pro se Petition. The Court promptly scheduled a hearing for February 22, 2010, attended by Petitioner Ilgenfritz and counsel for PNL and for the parties. The Court granted intervenor status in this litigation to Ilgenfritz and PNL.

Counsel for the parties in the case indicated that they did not oppose unsealing the briefs and exhibits in the case, with three exceptions:

1. The identity of the student Plaintiffs and their parents.

2. Personal identifiers such as Social Security Numbers, birth dates, and home addresses. See generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2; ...


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