Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Keeping Secrets

The Seattle Times has an ongoing special report on sealed court records. These are cases where as part of a settlement the entire proceedings have been made inaccessible. While Washington law does allow this in rare circumstances, the Times is filing to unseal cases that do not fit the legal criteria for sealing, and many of these cases are definitely of public interest. Cases include product liability, sexual assault, abuse, guardianship mismanagement, and malpractice. Visit their page on this series of articles for more details.

Abuse thrives in the darkness of secrecy. Our legal system, if it's to function for justice, needs to be open and accessible. Parents may want to know about teachers who touch students inappropriately. Patients may need to learn the importance of all features on medical devices. Families may seek redress for industrial accidents that injure or kill loved ones.

The prospect of public disclosure is a strong incentive for good behavior. Please read these stories, and support our right to know what our courts are ruling.

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