From this morning’s National Law Journal: Federal lawmakers have renewed legislation that would require judges to consider the public’s interest before agreeing to seal court records about products liability lawsuits with companies. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the Sunshine in Litigation Act of 2014 in the Senate this month. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., introduced a similar bill in the House in April.
The “sunshine” imagery is, of course, complicated. Exactly nobody involved in litigation would describe it as “sunshiny” in the “great to wake up and realize I’m basking in” sense. And my pre-coffee read of the article had me misunderstanding things in this way. It is, instead, about the circumstances under which courts would be permitted to maintain certain records and settlements under seal.
On quick skim, the presumption against protective orders and the public health/safety information sharing pieces look familiar. I see in the sponsors’ public statement that they also seek to
Increasing the efficiency of courts. Where the legislation requires disclosure, the information learned will be shared among those with similar cases, increasing court efficiency by avoiding duplication of discovery battles in every new case.
I don’t know what that looks like, and so I’ll be interested to watch that.
Michael Moffitt is the Dean for University of Oregon School of Law, Orlando J. and Marian H. Hollis Professor of Law, and Associate Director, ADR Center.
Before joining the Oregon law faculty in 2001, Michael Moffitt served as the clinical supervisor for the mediation program at Harvard Law School and taught negotiation at Harvard Law School and at the Ohio State University College of Law. Following a federal judicial clerkship, he spent several years with Conflict Management Group, consulting on negotiation and dispute resolution projects around the world. Professor Moffitt has published more than twenty scholarly articles on mediation, negotiation, and civil procedure. He co-edited The Handbook of Dispute Resolution (Jossey-Bass, 2005), an award-winning compilation of 31 original chapters by leading scholars and practitioners in the field. He also co-authored the innovative, student-focused book, Dispute Resolution: Examples & Explanations (Aspen 2008). The Provost of the University of Oregon named Professor Moffitt in the first group of recipients of a five-year award from the Oregon Fund for Faculty Excellence. The Oregon law school faculty awarded Professor Moffitt with the law school's Orlando J. Hollis Faculty Teaching Award. He is also the recipient of the University's Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching. He is a devoted but mediocre snowboarder, an aggressive tennis player, and an avid wine taster. He spends most of his energy in a futile effort to keep up with his daughters.