United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's request to seal
the record of the Court's dismissal of his case in
17-po-3176 and the Court's judgment of acquittal of
Defendant in 17-po-2101. He provides no reasons in support of
the relief requested. No hearing is necessary. L.R. 105.6.
Supreme Court has recognized that the press and the public
have a common law qualified right of access to judicial
records.” United States v. Ware, No.
5:97CR47-02, 2015 WL 2137133, at *2 (N.D. W.Va. May 7, 2015)
(citing Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S.
589, 597-99 (1978)), aff'd mem. per curiam, 627
Fed.Appx. 261 (4th Cir. 2016). “However, a judicial
officer's decision to seal, or to grant access to
judicial records, is discretionary.” Id.
(citing Balt. Sun Co. v. Goetz, 886 F.2d 60, 65 (4th
Cir. 1989)). “The interest to be protected by closing
trial proceedings must ‘be articulated along with
findings specific enough that a reviewing court can determine
whether the closure order was properly entered.'”
Id. (quoting same). “The Fourth Circuit has
applied these principles to requests to seal judicial
documents.” Id. (citing same).
Fourth Circuit has recognized that ‘a compelling
governmental interest exists in protecting the integrity of
an ongoing law enforcement investigation.'”
Id. (quoting Va. Dep't of State
Police v. Wash. Post, 386 F.3d 567, 579 (4th Cir.
2004)). “However, even when given that compelling
interest to consider, the Fourth Circuit has denied motions
to seal judicial documents.” Id. (citing
Va. Dep't of State Police, 386 F.3d at 579;
Balt. Sun, 886 F.2d at 65). “Additionally, the
Fourth Circuit has denied a request to seal where the
interest of the moving party was the confidentiality of
medical review proceedings and the underlying medical
records.” Id. (citing Stone v. Univ. of
Md. Med. Sys. Corp., 948 F.2d 128, 131 (4th Cir. 1991)).
“Of course, this Court and other courts do, from time
to time, seal court documents or portions thereof, when
private personal identifiers, such as social security
numbers, are found to be included; but that is not the
situation here.” Id.
This Court cannot find that the defendant's interest[s]
are as compelling as the interests cited above, which were
themselves not enough to overcome the presumption that
judicial records and documents should not be sealed. The
defendant's interests are based on possible employment
decisions and other equitable interests that are insufficient
to support a finding that the defendant's request should
be granted. As such, this Court finds that the
defendant's criminal record should not be sealed.
Id. Defendant's request to seal the record in
case numbers 17-po-2101 and 17-po-3176 thus is
extent that Defendant petitions the Court to expunge the
record of these cases, the Court lacks jurisdiction to do so.
Because there is no applicable statute providing for
expungement in cases such as these, the only available
jurisdictional basis is the doctrine of ancillary
jurisdiction. United States v. McKnight, 33
F.Supp.3d 577, 580 (D. Md. 2014). “The term
‘ancillary jurisdiction' refers to the court's
power to hear claims that are closely linked to other claims
over which the court's jurisdiction is otherwise
secure.” United States v. Wahi, 850 F.3d 296,
300 (7th Cir. 2017). “‘Ancillary'
jurisdiction applies to related proceedings that are
technically separate from the initial case that invoked
federal subject-matter jurisdiction.” United States
v. Mettetal, 714 Fed.Appx. 230, 233 n.1 (4th Cir. 2017)
(quoting United States v. Field, 756 F.3d 911, 914
(6th Cir. 2014)).
[F]ederal courts generally may invoke the doctrine of
ancillary jurisdiction in two circumstances: (1) where
necessary to permit disposition by a single court of claims
that are factually interdependent; and (2) “to enable a
court to function successfully, that is, to manage its
proceeding, vindicate its authority, and effectuate its
McKnight, 33 F.Supp.3d at 580 (citing Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 379-80
(1994)); see Mettetal, 714 Fed.Appx. at 234.
circumstance applies to petitions for equitable expungement,
however. Mettetal, 714 Fed.Appx. at 235. First,
“a request for equitable expungement is not factually
dependent on the underlying criminal case in any sense that
matters. Instead, it will always turn on facts collateral to
or arising after the case is over-in short, matters external
to the criminal case itself.” Wahi, 850 F.3d
at 302. Thus, the facts underlying Defendant's charges
are not interdependent with any equitable circumstances that
he may claim justify expungement. See
Mettetal, 714 Fed.Appx. at 235 (“Here, the
reasons Mettetal gives to support his petition for equitable
expungement [of his criminal record of his arrest and
overturned convictions] are that he has not run afoul of the
law since he was arrested in 1995 and that his criminal
record has had adverse professional and personal
consequences. These matters, however, arose after he was
arrested and involve facts quite separate and distinct from
the criminal proceedings themselves. As such, Mettetal's
petition is not ‘interdependent' with anything that
was properly before the federal court. It therefore
‘requires its own basis for jurisdiction.'”
(quoting Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 378)); Doe v.
United States, 833 F.3d 192, 199 (2d Cir. 2016).
“the power to expunge judicial records on equitable
grounds is not incidental to the court's ability to
function successfully as a court. Equitable
expungement is not needed to enable the court to
‘manage its proceedings' for the simple reason that
the criminal proceedings are over.” Wahi, 850
F.3d at 302 (citing Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 380).
“Nor is expungement authority needed to enable the
court to ‘vindicate its authority' or
‘effectuate its decrees.'” Id.
(citing same). Moreover, “[e]quitable considerations
which arise after the termination of court proceedings do not
operate to vitiate decrees that went into effect years
earlier.” Mettetal, 714 Fed.Appx. at 235;
see Doe, 833 F.3d at 198. Thus,
Kokkonen's second prong is not satisfied.
short, “ancillary jurisdiction does not
include a general equitable power to expunge judicial records
in a criminal case.” Wahi, 850 F.3d at 302-03;
see Mettetal, 714 Fed.Appx. at 235. Thus, to the
extent that Defendant petitions the Court to expunge ...