Confidential records bill moves out of senate committee

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 13, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed AB 2379 (Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa) on June 11.  If passed by the full Legislature and signed by the Governor, the bill would greatly undermine the appeals right for orders pertaining to sealed court records.

Current law recognizes the vital interests in sealing private documents and balances those interests with direct appellate review, which ensures fairness for both sides.  Currently, if a trial court declines to seal confidential records, a party has the right to appeal that decision.

AB 2379 would remove the direct appeals review and replace it with review only by a discretionary writ, which the appellate court may or may not choose to hear.  The result of this change would expose company confidential information indefinitely without any means to have a higher court review the trial court’s decision. Additionally, this legislation provides a further incentive to request the opening of sealed court records by providing attorney’s fees to any victorious plaintiff.  

The bill provides further incentive for increased frivolous litigation targeted at industry, not to correct a public wrong, but to solicit "extortion" settlements from companies that can ill-afford the time, money and most importantly, threat of confidential records exposure over the course of a trial.

AB 2379 now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

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