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July 14, 2024

Judge Granted Watchdogs’ Leave to Intervene in Downstate Court Case; Right of Access Upheld –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On March 24, 2022

White County, IL. (ECWd) –

Several weeks ago, we filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene in a lawsuit in southern Illinois on the issue of the right of the public to access records filed with the courts.

This morning without opposition from the named parties, Judge Daniel Emge granted our Motion to Intervene and heard arguments for and against People’s National Bank’s (“PNB”) request to file a (confidential) settlement agreement from a federal case, as part of this case, and keep that filing sealed in this case.

We objected, citing the traditional right of the public to access court filings absent substantial compelling reasons for keeping the documents from the public.

Grand Rivers National Bank (“GRNB”) also objected to filing any records under seal.

After hearing an argument for and against PNB’s request to file the document under seal, the Judge denied PNB’s request to file under seal, stating there was no compelling argument presented which would warrant the extraordinary step of filing the settlement agreement under seal.

Our attorney for this intervention, Brendan J. Healey, commented on the order by stating: “We’re delighted the court ruled in favor of public access in denying PNB’s request to seal the settlement agreement. The judge determined that the case law is clear on this issue, and we agree with the judge’s determination that there was no reason to hide the settlement agreement from public view.”

We previously wrote about some of the issues which may become involved in this lawsuit and others, including a case placed on hold years ago pending the outcome of a bankruptcy filing by one of the defendants. Our previous article focused on the actions of a now-former White County Judge (here).



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