A party seeking to file a document under seal in a civil case must follow any specific procedures of the presiding judge. Procedures of individual judges are available on the Court’s website by clicking on the judge’s name in the district judge directory or by contacting the Clerk’s Office. The following rules and procedures govern the filing of documents under seal in a civil case, unless the presiding judge has specific policies, procedures, or orders that are inconsistent with these rules and procedures.
Detailed procedures and important links are set forth below. As a general overview, electronic filing under seal requires these steps:
- Determine whether the presiding judge has applicable policies, procedures, or orders. If so, they control in the event of any conflict with these procedures;
- Publicly file the documents that you do not seek to seal;
- File the documents that you seek to seal electronically as a provisionally sealed filing;
- File a motion for leave to file under seal, along with a supporting brief and a proposed order granting the motion;
- Review the Court’s order on the motion for leave to file under seal; and
- If the Court did not grant the motion for leave in its entirety, within three days of the date of the order, re-file the provisionally sealed filing, including both public and sealed re-filings, as appropriate, consistent with the order.
Registered ECF users seeking to file documents under seal first must file those documents provisionally under seal electronically using these procedures. Events available for filing provisionally under seal are:
- All Civil Responses and Replies
- Notice of Filing
Absent a Court order, motions and settlement agreements may not be filed under seal provisionally, but briefs and other documents in support of a motion may be filed under seal provisionally. A provisionally sealed filing will not be considered by the Court for any substantive purpose unless and until the Court gives it permanently sealed status.
A “filing” includes a single main document or a main document with one or more additional documents attached. Electronic provisionally sealed filings will be served on registered CM/ECF users through the Court’s CM/ECF system consistent with other electronic filings. Upon proper entry of the user’s login and password, provisionally sealed filings will be viewable only by Court staff and attorneys registered with CM/ECF who have appeared in the matter, unless otherwise specified by the Court. Click here for more detailed instructions on viewing restricted documents.
If the filing party believes that an attorney who has appeared in the matter should not be permitted to view the provisionally sealed filing (such as an attorney for a non-party or a party that is not subject to a protective order), the filer must make advance arrangements with the Court to restrict that attorney’s ability to view provisionally sealed filings.
Docket entries for provisionally sealed civil filings will not be sealed and remain visible to the public. Docket entries typically identify the nature of the associated filing.
The complete rules governing electronic filing under seal in civil cases can be found in Section II(J) of Appendix H to the Local Rules for the Northern District of Georgia.
The procedures for specific types of electronic filings under seal are explained in detail through the links below: