Chief Judge Easterbrook Pointedly Denies Motion to Seal AT&T Mobility’s and Google’s Documents for Lack of Trade Secret Contention

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Chief Judge Easterbrook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit pointedly denied a motion to seal documents in In re Specht, 2010 WL 3494676, No. 10-2823, — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 3494676 (7th Cir. Sept. 8, 2010).  As part of its opposition to plaintiff’s petition for writ of mandamus in which plaintiff sought recusal of the district court judge.  Id. *1.  Google and AT & T Mobility were asked to respond to the petition, and asked the Third Circuit to seal their indemnity agreement and other documents.  The court refused: “If Google and AT & T wanted to keep the documents’ terms secret, they should not have proffered them in response to Specht’s motion.” Id. *4.

One final subject. Google and AT & T Mobility have asked us to keep confidential the language of their indemnity agreement and some other documents. Other participants in the wireless communication business might be able to obtain some negotiating advantage by knowing the agreement’s terms. Google and AT & T do not contend, however, that the terms are trade secrets. Documents that affect the disposition of federal litigation are presumptively open to public view, even if the litigants strongly prefer secrecy, unless a statute, rule, or privilege justifies confidentiality. See, e.g., Baxter International, Inc. v. Abbott Laboratories, 297 F.3d 544 (7th Cir. 2002); Union Oil Co. of California v. Leavell, 220 F.3d 562 (7th Cir. 2000). Because the motions to seal do not contend that the standards of Baxter and Union Oil have been satisfied, they are denied. If Google and AT & T wanted to keep the documents’ terms secret, they should not have proffered them in response to Specht’s motion.  The motions to seal are denied.

Id. *4.

Judges and Attorneys

Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook, Circuit Judges Michael Stephen Kanne and David F. Hamilton.

Petition for a Writ of Mandamus to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber.

P. Andrew Fleming, Attorney, Novack & Macey, Chicago, IL, for Petitioners.

By CHARLES JUNG

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