Public Access to Judicial Proceedings and Records in Maine: Worth Protecting

Plaintiffs and defendants in legal actions typically have little interest in a transparent justice system. A litigant often has the opposite interest, wanting as little light as possible shed on his proceedings, and preferring them to be shrouded in secrecy. A litigant's priority is the success of his case – only rarely is the case itself about public access to judicial proceedings and records. Corporate defendants in civil litigation are notoriously publicity averse. Some criminal defendants would also prefer that their matters be handled in secret for fear of embarrassment or harm to reputation. It is easy to file a motion to seal or to stamp as "confidential" documents that a client does not want made public, or to acquiesce to such a motion made by opposing counsel. Even a litigant not sensitive to publicity may find it hard to justify spending money fighting over public access to court proceedings or records. Is that a battle worth fighting?

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