No Sealing of Police Body-Cam Video in Lawsuit Over Confrontation With Police,

In the wake of Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Anthony Ishii, Wallace v. City of Fresno (E.D. Cal.):

The defendants argue that the Court should seal the body-cam footage of a police officer that shows the encounter between them. [Fresno Police Department]Officers and [minor plaintiff] Wallace. The defendants claim that the videos depict minors with privacy rights. A public release of the video can have a negative impact on the reputation and standing of minors in the community. To avoid the danger and harm that could come from release, sealing the video is appropriate….

Access to all judicial records is presumptuous, even attachments/filings that relate to summary judgement.

An exhibit or other judicial record may be ordered sealed if “compelling reasons” to seal outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure…. “‘[C]When court records are used to satisfy private spite or promote public scandal, distribute libelous comments, release trade secrets, or to gain publicity, there may be ‘ompelling grounds’ that outweigh public interest in disclosing. The court will not be compelled to seal records if the mere fact of a litigant being embarrased, incriminated, or exposed to more litigation is sufficient to make it so. …

[T]he Court agrees with Wallace that sealing the body-cam video is unwarranted…. Wallace only knows of one minor, who Wallace considers his friend. Wallace states that the minor was only visible for 3 seconds. He is not seen leaving the apartment or walking into public spaces. This is an extremely brief time.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if the image of the minor was used. There is nothing embarrassing about getting out of your apartment. Wallace also claimed that the video was reported on and has been in circulation for more than two years. Wallace has agreed with the Court that there is no embarrassment. {If the parties believe that it is appropriate, the Court would likely be amenable to a stipulation to file the video with the minor’s face blurred out.}

The Defendants did not submit any other information to support Wallace’s claims. The Court finds that the Defendants did not provide sufficient compelling grounds to justify sealing the body-cam footage exhibit. If Defendants wish to rely on the body-cam video, the video must be submitted or filed in an unsealed manner and consistent with the Local Rules….