United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
CHARLES COLLINS, TRACY ADAMS, on behalf of her minor child, D.A., CALEB ROBERTS, STEPHEN JANSEN, GREGORY CHAMBERS, ALICIA SILVESTRE, JERIMIAH OLIVAR, DAVID CROWLEY, and JEREMY BROWN, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF MILWAUKEE, MILWAUKEE FIRE AND POLICE COMMISSION, and CHIEF EDWARD FLYNN, in his official capacity as the Chief of the Milwaukee Police Department, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
7, 2016, the parties jointly requested entry of a stipulated
protective order and submitted a proposed draft of the order.
(Docket #21). The parties request that the Court enter such
an order so that they may avoid the public disclosure of
confidential information and documents. Id. at 1-2.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 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); see also Civil
L. R. 26(e).
Court sympathizes with the parties' request and will
grant it, but, before doing so, must note the limits that
apply to protective orders. Protective orders are, in fact,
an exception to the general rule that pretrial discovery must
occur in the public eye. Am. Tel. & Tel. 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c);
Citizens First, 178 F.3d at 945; Jepson, Inc. v.
Makita Elec. Works, Ltd., 30 F.3d 854, 858 (7th Cir.
1994) (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
(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.
County Materials Corp. v. Allan Block Corp., 502
F.3d 730, 740 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Citizens
First, 178 F.3d at 945).
parties have requested the protective order in this case in
good faith. This case involves alleged constitutional
violations arising from the City of Milwaukee police
force's stop-and-frisk policies. Information implicated
in this case includes personally identifying information and
criminal histories for numerous individuals, including
minors, confidential informants, crime victims, City
employees, and others. The case also concerns the City's
financial information. These are sufficient bases for the
requested protective order.
parties' proposed protective order, however, appears
overbroad. It provides that, if the parties need to file any
such documentation with the Court, they may do so by filing
the documents with the Court under seal. In other words, it
appears that the parties wish to be able to seal-in their
entirety-any documents that contain sensitive information.
This departs from the Court's desire to ensure that every
phase of the trial occurs in the public eye to the maximum
extent possible. See Hicklin Eng'r, 439 F.3d at
348. While the Court understands that some documents will
need to be sealed entirely, other documents may contain only
small amounts of confidential information, and so redaction
of those documents may be more appropriate.
Court, thus, has crafted its own protective order to enter in
this case. The Court's protective order still allows the
parties to file documents under seal, but does not presume
that every confidential document should be filed under seal
in its entirety. Rather, it contemplates that the parties
will use their judgment to determine the best way to protect
confidential information in submitted documents. The order
also includes a provision consistent with the Court's and
this district's standard practice of allowing any party
and any interested members of the public to challenge the
sealing of documents.
the Court must note that, while it finds the parties'
proposed order to be permissible and will, therefore, enter
it, the Court 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 parties' proposed protective order adequately
complies with the standards set forth above (after the
Court's minor changes), the Court will enter an order
based on the parties' joint motion and proposed order to
Pursuant to the joint motion of the parties (Docket #21), 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.
Protective Order shall apply to all information and documents
disclosed by the parties, either voluntarily or pursuant to a
request for the production of documents or a subpoena duces
tecum, in the course of this litigation, whether written,
electronic, oral, visual, or contained in documents,
transcripts, or in any other form.
THEREFORE ORDERED that, pursuant to Civil Local Rule 26(e)
and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1)(D), (A)
DESIGNATION OF CONFIDENTIAL OR ATTORNEYS' EYES ONLY
INFORMATION. Designation of information under this Order must
be made by placing or affixing on the document or material,
in a manner that will not interfere with its legibility, the
words “CONFIDENTIAL” or “ATTORNEYS EYES
(1) One who produces information, documents, or other
material may designate them as “CONFIDENTIAL”
when the person in good faith believes they contain the
following types of information:
(a) personally-identifying information, including dates of
birth, social security numbers, home addresses, ...