“Public confidence cannot long be maintained where important judicial decisions are made behind closed doors and then announced in conclusive terms to the public, with the record supporting the court's decision sealed from public view.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Blackmun, Gannett Co. v. DePasquale, 443 U.S. 368 (1979)
Under the First Amendment and common law, the press and public have a presumed right of access to court records and proceedings, but many courts continue to shield this information from public view. Sealing records or preventing reporters and citizens from attending court proceedings establishes a cloak of secrecy that leads to distrust of our judicial system and raises doubts that matters were litigated and decided fairly. Access to court records and proceedings enables the press to report more fully and accurately on judicial decisions, in turn empowering the public with the information it needs to provide effective oversight of the judicial system.