David H. Rich, a partner with Todd & Weld LLP, was quoted in the September 24, 2012 issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Mr. Rich offered his views regarding privacy issues raised in a suit brought by a group of plaintiff shareholders against Bain Capital in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Over the past five years, most pleadings in the case have been filed under seal. Recently, attorneys representing The New York Times sought to lift the order sealing the documents. Mr. Rich is not connected with the suit.
Mr. Rich, who dealt with a similar public access question before the Federal Court, told Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly that the great weight of federal authority has come out against the sealing of pleadings such as complaints. "The fact that a defendant could suffer embarrassment if allegations become public is hardly grounds to keep court filings off limits," he said.
Mr. Rich commented further: "What the 1st Circuit says is that the public's ability to access and monitor the judicial system fosters honesty, respect and confidence in the system. The public generally doesn't want matters of justice decided in a star chamber. So any action which seals the public's view over matters involving the meting out of justice, on its face, has to be scrutinized carefully."