United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ESTATE OF DEREK WILLIAMS, JR., TANIJAH WILLIAMS, DEREK WILLIAMS III, and TALIYAH S. WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF MILWAUKEE, JEFFREY CLINE, RICHARD TICCIONI, PATRICK COE, JASON BLEICHWEHL, ROBERT THIEL, TODD KAUL, ZACHARY THOMS, GREGORY KUSPA, CRAIG THIMM, CHAD BOYACK, and DAVID LETTEER, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
the November 10, 2016 scheduling conference for this matter,
the Court and parties discussed entry of a protective order.
(Docket #13). Later that same day, the plaintiffs submitted a
proposed order to the Court's e-mail submission box; no
motion for a protective order was filed on the docket itself.
The defendants then filed a response to the plaintiff's
proposed order. (Docket #14).
plaintiffs' proposed protective order matches another
such order entered recently in a similar case, also alleging
police misconduct involving the City of Milwaukee. See
J.M. et al. v. City of Milwaukee et al., 16-CV-507-JPS,
(Docket #24). As indicated in the scheduling conference, the
Court is inclined to enter that order here as well. The
defendants request that one sentence be added, namely that
the word “CONFIDENTIAL” should be affixed to any
document containing confidential information. The plaintiffs do
not oppose the addition. (Docket #15).
Court will grant the request in a manner consistent with the
remainder of the protective order. As addressed later in this
Order, only specific instances of sensitive information, and
not entire documents, should be designated as confidential.
Thus, if a “CONFIDENTIAL” stamp appears on any
document, it will only serve as notice that particular
instances of sensitive information appear within the
document. It will not have the effect of rendering the entire
document confidential, as was discussed and rejected by the
Court in the context of the J.M. protective order.
those points in mind, the Court addresses the propriety of
the protective order itself. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
26(c) allows for an order “requiring that a trade
secret or other confidential research, development, or
commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in
a specified way.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(G), Civil L.R.
26(e). Protective orders are, in fact, an exception to the
general rule that pretrial discovery must occur in the public
eye. American Telephone & Telegraph Co. v.
Grady, 594 F.2d 594, 596 (7th Cir. 1979); Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(c); see also Citizens First Nat'l Bank of
Princeton v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945-46
(7th Cir. 1999). Litigation must be “conducted in
public to the maximum extent consistent with respecting trade
secrets…and other facts that should be held in
confidence.” Hicklin Eng'r, L.C. v.
Bartell, 439 F.3d 346, 348 (7th Cir. 2006).
the Court can enter a protective order if the parties have
shown good cause, and also that the order is narrowly
tailored to serving that cause. F.R.C.P. 26(c); see,
e.g., Citizens First Nat'l Bank of
Princeton, 178 F.3d at 945, Jepson, Inc. v. Makita
Elec. Works, Ltd., 30 F.3d 854, 858 (7th Cir. 1994)
(holding that, even when parties agree to the entry of a
protective order, they still must show the existence of good
cause). The Court can even find that broad, blanket orders
are narrowly tailored and permissible, when it finds that two
factors are satisfied:
(1) that the parties will act in good faith in designating
the portions of the record that should be subject to the
protective order; and
(2) that the order explicitly allows the parties to the case
and other interested members of the public to challenge the
sealing of documents.
Cty. Materials Corp. v. Allan Block Corp., 502 F.3d
730, 740 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Citizens First Nat'l
Bank of Princeton, 178 F.3d 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999)).
no motion for entry of a protective order was actually filed,
the Court finds that the parties' request for such an
order is made in good faith. This case involves the death of
Derek Williams, Jr. in the course of interactions with
various Milwaukee Police Department officers. The discovery
process will result in the exchange of a substantial amount
of City of Milwaukee records. Such documents often include
very sensitive material, including: information that may
personally identify individuals including juveniles,
confidential informants, family members of City of Milwaukee
employees, family members of the plaintiffs, and victims of
violence and sexual crimes; financial information; healthcare
information; emergency contact information; statements made
by witnesses, complainants, and arrestees; and other personal
information. In sum, many records involved in this case are
hypersensitive, and the parties clearly seek the requested
protective order in good faith.
Court further finds that the parties' proposed terms
satisfy the above-stated maxims. As noted above, rather than
designating entire documents as confidential, the parties
will be limited to designating information within documents
as confidential. This will ensure maximum transparency in
this litigation while preventing disclosure of sensitive
the Court must note that it subscribes to the view that the
Court's decision-making process must be transparent and
as publicly accessible as possible. Thus, the Court
preemptively warns the parties that it will not enter any
decision under seal.
The Court finds that the exchange of sensitive information
between the parties and/or third parties other than in
accordance with this Order may cause unnecessary damage and
injury to the parties and to others. The Court further finds
that the terms of this Order are fair and just and that good
cause has been shown for entry of this Order.
ORDERED that, pursuant to Civil Local Rule 26(e) and Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1)(D), 1. The following
categories of information are to be handled as ...