Ninth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments Concerning OC Superior Court’s Review of Newly Filed Civil Complaints, OCBA Lends Amicus Support

The Ninth Circuit heard arguments June 28 concerning the constitutionality of the OC Superior Court’s policy of reviewing newly e-filed unlimited civil complaints to prevent disclosure of information made confidential by law. In August 2017, U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford denied a preliminary injunction request giving Courthouse News Service immediate access to these newly filed complaints.

The OCBA—together with the National Association of Women Lawyers, Family Violence Appellate Project, Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Public Law Center, and Veterans Legal Institute—filed an amici brief in support of the OC Superior Court in the trial court, and again in the Ninth Circuit after Courthouse News Service appealed the denial of the requested preliminary injunction. OCBA Board Member Mary- Christine (“M.C.”) Sungaila, an appellate partner at Haynes and Boone, and her team authored the Ninth Circuit amici brief, which argued that the OC Superior Court’s confidentiality review policy is narrowly tailored to ensure that certain litigants’ constitutional and statutory rights to informational privacy are not jettisoned by a qualified right of access. Ms. Sungaila argued on behalf of the OCBA and other amici before the Court on June 28 as well, sharing some of the argument time of counsel for Mr. Yamasaki. Click here to view the oral argument.

The OCBA has provided amicus support since the early stages of the case—underscoring that allowing Courthouse News Service to access unlimited civil complaints from the moment they are filed undermines the privacy rights of certain litigants, particularly tenants in eviction proceedings and victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault who participate in California’s Safe at Home Program.