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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

Northern District of Texas

Barbara M.G. Lynn, Chief Judge
Karen Mitchell, Clerk of Court

Sealed Information

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Sealed Civil Filing

Filing a Civil Complaint Under Seal

To submit a civil complaint for filing under seal, present the motion for leave to file under seal (See LR 79.3(b)), complaint, and all subsequent filings to the Clerk’s Office on paper. (A case filed pursuant to the False Claims Act 31, U.S.C. § 3730(b) does not require a motion for leave to file under seal.) When a civil complaint is submitted for filing under seal, the clerk will maintain the entire case under seal until ordered to unseal it.

A sealed case is not available on PACER or through ECF for electronic filing or noticing of activity in the case. The clerk’s office will serve notice of court orders and judgments via e-mail outside of ECF (to registered ECF users) or via US mail (to non-ECF users). You must serve your pleadings outside of ECF using a method authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Filing or Accessing a Sealed Document in a Public Civil Case

You may file under seal any document that a statute, rule, or court order requires or permits to be so filed. See LR 79.3(a) and Amended Special Order 19-1. If no statute, rule, or court order requires or permits your document to be filed under seal, you may file it under seal only on motion and by permission of the presiding judge. See LR 79.3(b).

If the presiding judge permits electronic filing and the case is public, you may file your motion for leave to file under seal using the Sealed and/or Ex Parte Motion event in ECF. This event will restrict the motion and the proposed sealed document, which you must attach as an exhibit to the motion, from public view. If leave is later granted, the clerk will file the sealed document as of the date of the order granting leave. See LR 79.3(b)(2).

Please include the word “Sealed” in the title or caption of any document intended for filing under seal (and any proposed order you believe should be filed under seal if entered by the judge).

Whenever a document is docketed as sealed (and not ex parte), a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) will be sent to all case participants, and remote electronic access will be granted only to those recipients. The PACER (public) docket sheet will display the document title you indicate while docketing, but access to the document will be limited to case participants. Entries of this nature will also contain the notation “(Document Restricted)” at the beginning of the docket entry.

Whenever a document is docketed as ex parte, a NEF will be sent to the document filer only, including non-terminated co-counsel, and remote electronic access will be granted only to those recipients. Neither the docket entry nor the document will be visible to the public on PACER.

To view a more detailed procedure for filing a civil document under seal, please click here.

 

Sealed Criminal Filing

Filing or Accessing a Sealed Document in a Public Criminal Case

You may file under seal any document that a statute, rule, or court order requires or permits to be so filed. See LCrR 55.3(a), and Amended Special Order 19-1. If no statute, rule, or court order requires or permits your document to be filed under seal, you may file it under seal only on motion and by permission of the presiding judge. See LCrR 55.3(b).

If the presiding judge permits electronic filing and the case is public, you may file your motion for leave to file under seal using the Sealed and/or Ex Parte Motion event in ECF. This event will restrict the motion and the proposed sealed document, which you must attach as an exhibit to the motion, from public view. If leave is later granted, the clerk will file the sealed document as of the date of the order granting leave. See LCrR 55.3(b)(2).

Please include the word “Sealed” in the title or caption of any document intended for filing under seal (and any proposed order you believe should be filed under seal if entered by the judge).

If you indicate while docketing that a document is sealed (and not ex parte), a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) will be sent to both the applicable defendant and the USA (based on your selections), and remote electronic access will be granted only to those recipients. If the clerk indicates while docketing a document submitted in paper that the document is sealed, a NEF will be sent to the document filer only. The docket text will reflect that service is the responsibility of the document filer.

Whenever a document is docketed as ex parte, a NEF will be sent to the document filer only, including non-terminated co-counsel, and remote electronic access will be granted only to those recipients. Neither the docket entry nor the document will be visible to the public on PACER.

Regardless of who does the docketing or the restriction level indicated while docketing (sealed or ex parte), neither the docket entry nor the document will be accessible by the public on PACER.

To view a more detailed procedure for filing a criminal document under seal, please click here.

 

Accessing Restricted Documents

See the procedure for Accessing Restricted Documents.

Note: Please be advised that there is only one free look available for sealed documents, even if there are multiple recipients on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). If you miss viewing/saving the document when it’s initially delivered, please contact your local Clerk’s Office and request the NEF be regenerated.