United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY. JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant John Rife's
(“Defendant”) Motion for Leave to File and
Maintain Under Seal  (“Motion” or
“Motion to Seal”).
January 6, 2017, Defendant filed, under seal, his Motion for
Downward Departure and Variance  (“Departure
Motion”). The same day, Defendant filed his Motion to
Seal requesting that his Departure Motion, and all
attachments thereto, be maintained under seal on the docket.
Defendant argues that sealing is necessary because the Motion
and attachments “contain sensitive medical
information.” (Mot. at 2).
January 11, 2017, the Government filed, under seal, its
Response in Opposition to the Departure Motion 
January 13, 2017, the Court conducted Defendant's
sentencing hearing. (). At it, Defendant presented
witnesses Dr. Keith Dockery, Defendant's
otolaryngologist, and Ree Rife, Defendant's wife. Both
witnesses presented detailed testimony, in open court,
regarding Defendant's cancer, medical treatments, and his
physical condition. Defendant's counsel, William D.
Dillon, also provided argument that discussed Defendant's
January 26, 2017, the Court directed Defendant to supplement
his Motion to Seal:
Defendant shall, on or before February 4, 2017, highlight on
the Departure Motion  and its exhibits what information
he contends would be damaging or have some other significant
adverse effect on Defendant and explain why disclosure would
have an adverse impact. This document should be delivered to
the Court for in camera review.
( at 2). Defendant submitted the required material by
February 14, 2017, the Court directed Defendant's counsel
to compare the transcript of Defendant's sentencing
hearing to the highlighted documents. The Court notified
counsel that any information in the Departure Motion or
attachments, that was also discussed at the sentencing
hearing, should not be sealed on the docket.
February 27, 2017, Defendant's counsel advised the Court
that, upon his review of the Departure Motion and the
transcript of the sentencing hearing , he had no
objection to the unsealing of the Departure Motion.
Defendant's counsel requested that “Attachments 1,
2, 3, and 4 [to the Departure Motion] remain UNDER SEAL
because those documents disclose Personally Identifiable
Information and/or information that is protected under
HIPPA.” (February 27, 2017, Attorney Dillon's email
to the Court (“February 27th Email”).
Defendant's counsel did not request that Attachments 5,
6, 7, 8, and 9 remain under seal.
federal common law, there is a presumption that judicial
records are public documents. See Nixon v. Warner
Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978);
Chicago Tribune Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, 263
F.3d 1304, 1311 (11th Cir. 2001). The public's common-law
right of access is not absolute, however, and “may be
overcome by a showing of good cause.” Romero v.
Drummond Co., 480 F.3d 1234, 1245 (11th Cir. 2007).
“[W]hether good cause exists . . . is . . . decided by
the nature and character of the information in
question.” Id. at 1246 (quoting Chicago
Tribune, 263 F.3d at 1315). Courts deciding whether to
seal documents must balance “the public interest in
accessing court documents against a party's interest in
keeping the information confidential.” Id. In
balancing these interests, “courts consider, among
other factors, whether allowing access would impair court
functions or harm legitimate privacy interests, the degree of
and likelihood of injury if made ...