Blanket Sealing Order Violates First Amendment and NC Open Court Rules

Originally published by The Media Law Resource Center, December 31, 2018

By Jonathan E. Buchan

On December 18, 2018, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, in John Doe, by and through his Guardian ad Litem et al. v. John Doe et al., directed a state trial court to unseal most of a civil court file that had been sealed in its entirety since its commencement in late 2016. The Court of Appeals, after reviewing the sealed file in camera, held that the trial court’s blanket
sealing orders – in a case involving allegations of sexual abuse committed against one or more minors by one of the defendants – violated the First Amendment and the open courts provision of the North Carolina Constitution.

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