Thursday, November 1, 2018
Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Media Request For Access To Sealed Motions In Criminal Case Prior To Jury Selection
The Supreme Court of Illinois has reversed a lower court ruling which would have allowed access to motions in limine sealed in a criminal case prior to jury selection. Intervenors were members of the media, who argued that the public had a First Amendment right of access to the documents. The Court found " no tradition of access to discovery material not yet admitted at trial....Information that surfaces during pretrial discovery may be unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action." (Footnotes omitted). Additionally, although there is a recognized common law right of access to public records, "the common-law right of access to judicial records is not absolute. ...We have recognized that "[e]very court has supervisory power over its own records and files, and access [may be] denied where court files might[ ] become a vehicle for improper purposes." (Footnotes omitted).
The case is People v. Zimmerman (Docket No. 122261) (opinion filed October 18, 2018).
Decision not final until the expiration of the 21 day petition for rehearing period.