In a recent decision by a Supreme Court New York County Justice, the subject of sealing court filings from public disclosure was reviewed. The widow of a world famous celebrity--the late Glenn Frey, asked Justice George Silver for an Order "sealing the entire file in this action" pursuant to Uniform Rules for Trial Courts, 22 NYCRR 216.1. In recent years civil court filings have become easily available to the general public online. Frequently, extremely private and sensitive information regarding a litigant's financial, marital and medical affairs are described in these records which can be accessed by anyone 24/7. The rule cited above allows the sealing of records filed in court upon a finding of "good cause" when the "need for secrecy outweighs the public's right to access". However, "the court generally will not approve wholesale sealing, even when both sides to the litigation request sealing."
Justice Silver denied the request to seal the entire court record but left open the possibility that he would agree to seal certain records, such as Glenn Frey's tax returns. Justice Silver asked: "If this court were to deny their (us peasants) applications simply because they have not achieved the same level of status or acclaim as decedent, such litigants would be able to rightfully ask what makes this case so different from theirs? Why should a famous plaintiff be entitled to protections that less renowned individuals can only dream of? What level of fame warrants sealing protection in the first place?" Frey v Steven Itzkowitz, The Mount Sinai Hospital, Sup. Ct., New York County, Index No. 805014/18