Judicial Secrecy and the Sunshine in Litigation Act

“Far too often, court-approved secrecy agreements hide vital public health and safety information from the American public, putting lives at stake,” observed Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI).

“The secrecy agreements even prevent government officials or consumer groups from learning about and protecting the public from defective and dangerous products.”

“Legislation that I’ve introduced… seeks to restore the appropriate balance between secrecy and openness. Under our bill, the proponent of a protective order must demonstrate to the judge’s satisfaction that the order would not restrict the disclosure of information relevant to public health and safety hazards.”

Sen. Kohl’s proposed remedy, the Sunshine in Litigation Act, was the subject of a recent Senate hearing that has just been published. See “The Sunshine in Litigation Act: Does Court Secrecy Undermine Public Health and Safety?” (pdf), Senate Judiciary Committee, December 11, 2007.