Court documents are a part of public record. However, some of these records are not always available to people outside of the case. Sealed court records are found in civil, criminal and family law and are used for a variety of reasons.
The courts will seal court records for the safety of the individuals involved. The courts will not allow records to be made public if doing so will cause harm to anyone involved in the case. This rule is commonly used in cases where there are victims of assault or a restraining order is in force to name a few examples.
Court records are also sealed when the confidentiality of the persons involved is paramount to the case. Courts use sealed records to protect companies in litigation from divulging trade secrets to the public.
Court records involving doctor/patient confidentiality are also sealed. This is to uphold the patient privacy. Any medical doctor, counselor, therapist and even social worker communications are sealed to protect patient confidentiality.
Family Court Cases
The courts records involving minors are always sealed to protect the identity and innocence of the minor. In fact, after a minor reaches the age 18, any criminal record he may have is often sealed.
Tax information, communications between the judge and any assistants, and the records of any case in which the judge has issued a “gag” order. Any other case that will lead to the unnecessary embarrassment, other unrelated lawsuits, or costs can be sealed at the judges’ discretion.
Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.