The OCBA—leading a coalition of amici including the National Association of Women Lawyers, Family Violence Appellate Project, Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Public Law Center, and Veterans Legal Institute—has helped the Orange County Superior Court maintain its policy of reviewing newly e-filed unlimited civil complaints before making them publicly available, in an effort to prevent disclosure of litigants’ statutorily protected sensitive, confidential information.
OCBA Board Member Mary-Christine (“M.C.”) Sungaila, an appellate partner at Haynes and Boone, and her team penned the amici brief. The brief underscored that allowing Courthouse News Service immediate access to unlimited civil complaints from the moment they are filed endangers the privacy rights of certain litigants, such as tenants in eviction proceedings and victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault who participate in California’s Safe at Home Program.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford partially granted the OC Superior Court’s summary-judgment motion, holding, among other things, that Courthouse News Service is not entitled to access unlimited civil complaints on the same day the OC Superior Court receives them. Judge Guilford quoted from the OCBA-led amici brief when discussing the indispensable privacy interests at stake here, and observed that, of all 58 counties statewide, Orange County is home to the second highest number of Safe at Home Program participants.
For more information, view the court ruling and amicus brief.