It is a basic principle of the American system of jurisprudence that the courts of the United States are open. That includes not only the opportunity for the public to attend courtroom proceedings, but also the right to examine the documents that are filed in court. However, this principle of openness can sometimes come into conflict with other principles in our justice system. Everyone recognizes that there are some situations in which information should not be made public, at least not immediately. The problem is how to identify and limit those situations in which information is not made public so that we do not have too much information kept secret. The problem is complicated because a litigant's trial strategy may not be consistent with the public's interest in greater disclosure. Perhaps the easiest way to describe the problem is to work through a law school hypothetical.
Alan B. Morrison,
Protective Orders, Plaintiffs, Defendants and the Public Interest in Disclosure; Where Does the Balance Lie?,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol24/iss1/7