The Florida courts and clerks continue to labor to repair the damage caused by widespread reports of sealing selected cases and even concealing docket listings for cases involving famous, powerful and wealthy people.
Here in Palm Beach County, an order was recently entered requiring a publicly-noticed public hearing before a case in this county can be sealed, either in whole or in part. If prior notice is not practicable, notice will be made public after the fact – but challenges could be prosecuted later.
The Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers has recommended that all hearings on sealing be noticed on the clerks’ official websites, at a minimum.
Florida’s Supreme Court is reportedly still reviewing the problem and it is anticipated that it will adopt rules for sealing, either part or entire cases, which will apply uniformly throughout the state.
To that end, each judicial circuit was recently required to submit a report to the Florida Supreme Court regarding the current state of sealing in that circuit.
Some circuits have reportedly blamed the much-publicized sealing and super-sealing on inaccurate reporting by the media and computer glitches.
Amidst all the uproar, it should be remembered that there may be legitimate reasons for sealing part or all of a case. In fact, that is standard practice in Florida for adoption cases, juvenile dependency cases and juvenile delinquency cases, and mental health cases.