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Sealed Filings


  1. How do I file briefs or excerpts of record under seal?
  2. What if my motion to seal also needs to be filed under seal?
  3. Why is electronic service via CM/ECF not adequate? Do I really need to serve the motion and documents by mail?
  4. How do I know whether to file a motion to seal or a notice of filing under seal?
  5. What if the district court sealed documents that I want to submit to this Court but I don’t want to file a motion to seal because sealing is not important to my client?
  6. What will happen to my sealed documents if I forget to include a motion or notice to seal?
  7. Do I need to file a motion or notice to seal specific documents if the entire case is sealed?
  8. What will happen to my sealed documents if my motion to seal is denied?
  9. Will the filing of a motion to seal stay the briefing schedule for the remaining briefs?
  10. When should I submit paper copies of my sealed materials or my brief referencing sealed materials?
  11. Who will have access to sealed materials that are electronically submitted?
  12. Do I have to file a brief under seal if it references sealed materials?
  13. Do I have to file redacted documents or briefs if only part of the documents need to be sealed?
  14. Should I file my presentence report and memoranda with the excerpts of record?
  15. The district court granted my motion to seal; can I use the same argument on appeal in order to save time and costs?
  16. The interim rule states that any portions of the excerpts that I want filed under seal must be placed in a separate volume at the end of my excerpts of record but the circuit rules state that the documents should be presented in reverse chronological order. How can I preserve the chronological order if certain documents are placed in a separate volume? How should the excerpts as a whole be paginated?
  17. What if I have already filed briefs or excerpts of record under seal pursuant to a notice or stipulation prior to the effective date of this interim rule?
  18. I forgot to file my motion to close argument more than 14 days before the hearing but it’s important that argument not be public. Should I make the motion in open court the day of the hearing?

  1. How do I file briefs or excerpts of record under seal?
    All briefs and excerpts, including those containing materials that you wish to have sealed, must be submitted electronically via Appellate CM/ECF with an accompanying motion or notice. For briefs or excerpts you seek to have sealed, prominently display the words "UNDER SEAL" on the cover or first page of the document or volume of documents, and use Type of Document "Motion to File Document Under Seal and Submit Document" or "Notice of Filing Document Under Seal and Submit Document." If you are requesting that only some of the documents included in any excerpts of record be filed under seal, include only those documents in a final, separate sealed volume of those excerpts and submit only that volume separately with your motion or notice. [Back to Top]
  2. What if my motion to seal also needs to be filed under seal?
    You must submit the motion to seal or notice of sealing and the documents to be filed under seal in the same transaction, separate from any other submissions or filings you might be making at the same time. The motion or notice will be provisionally sealed along with the documents. If the motion or notice itself needs to remain under seal for any reason, the motion or notice must include a request for that relief, and must explain why. Otherwise, the motion or notice will be unsealed when the Court rules on the request to seal the accompanying documents, whether or not the Court orders any of the documents themselves sealed. [Back to Top]
  3. Why is electronic service via CM/ECF not adequate? Do I really need to serve the motion and documents by mail?
    Yes. Documents submitted provisionally under seal will not be available to anyone outside the Court. You must serve your motion or notice to file under seal and accompanying documents by mail or, if mutually agreed in advance, by e-mail. Use the form certificate of service available on the Court's website at http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/forms/ and include the completed certificate in your filing. [Back to Top]
  4. How do I know whether to file a motion to seal or a notice of filing under seal?
    You must file a motion to seal whenever you wish to file or maintain any document under seal, even if the district court ordered that document sealed, unless sealing is required by federal statute or procedural rule. Use the form notice of sealing, only if sealing is required by statute or rule. The form is available on the Court's website, at http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/forms/. [Back to Top]
  5. What if the district court sealed documents that I want to submit to this Court but I don’t want to file a motion to seal because sealing is not important to my client?
    If the documents were ordered sealed by the district court and you do not wish to file a motion to file them under seal in this Court, submit those documents provisionally under seal, along with a notice of filing them publicly, using the form notice and use Type of Document "Notice of Intent to File Publicly and Submit Document." The form is available on the Court's website, at http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/forms/. This gives any other party an opportunity to file a motion to seal the documents within 21 days of submission. If no other party files such a motion, the documents will be unsealed. If the documents are part of your excerpts of record, submit them in a separate, final volume as if you were filing them under seal. [Back to Top]
  6. What will happen to my sealed documents if I forget to include a motion or notice to seal?
    The Court will notify you of any filing deficiencies, including the failure to include a motion or notice. The submitted materials will be maintained provisionally under seal until you have had an opportunity to correct those deficiencies. [Back to Top]
  7. Do I need to file a motion or notice to seal specific documents if the entire case is sealed?
    No. In the rare instance where an entire case is ordered sealed, you do not need to file a motion or notice to seal specific documents or submissions. [Back to Top]
  8. What will happen to my sealed documents if my motion to seal is denied?
    If your motion is denied, the Court will provide you an interval within which you may withdraw the proposed sealed material; the material will remain shielded from public view during that interval. [Back to Top]
  9. Will the filing of a motion to seal stay the briefing schedule for the remaining briefs?
    No. The filing of a motion to seal documents does not ordinarily stay briefing. The Court will generally rule on the motion very quickly, and that ruling may include adjustments to the briefing schedule. You may, however, request that briefing be stayed or adjusted and show cause why relief is warranted. [Back to Top]
  10. When should I submit paper copies of my sealed materials or my brief referencing sealed materials?
    Wait until you receive an order from the Court directing you to submit paper copies of any sealed material or of any related materials that could be affected by a ruling on your motion to seal, such as your brief or unsealed excerpts. If your motion to seal is denied or granted only in part you will be directed to make changes to your brief and excerpts before they are ordered filed. [Back to Top]
  11. Who will have access to sealed materials that are electronically submitted?
    Materials that you request to have filed under seal must be filed electronically. They will remain provisionally under seal during the pendency of the motion. Sealed materials can be viewed only by Court personnel; neither the parties nor the public has access to the submitted materials. If the entire case is under seal, individual filings are not submitted under seal, and the parties, but not the public, will also have access to the materials. [Back to Top]
  12. Do I have to file a brief under seal if it references sealed materials?
    No. You should request leave to file a brief under seal only if the brief clearly discloses confidential information contained in sealed materials. The Court's preference is to seal as few filings as possible. [Back to Top]
  13. Do I have to file redacted documents or briefs if only part of the documents need to be sealed?
    Any requirement to file redacted documents will be set forth in the order that responds to the motion to seal. [Back to Top]
  14. Should I file my presentence report and memoranda with the excerpts of record?
    No. The presentence report, attachments to the report, and any sentencing memoranda filed under seal in the district court may not be included in the excerpts, but instead must be filed separately using the Presentence Report Under Seal Type of Document. You do NOT need to file a motion to seal or a notice of filing under seal for these documents. [Back to Top]
  15. The district court granted my motion to seal; can I use the same argument on appeal in order to save time and costs?
    Yes. However, note that this Court will not seal based solely on a stipulation and there is a strong presumption in favor of keeping all documents in the public record. Your argument must be based on continuing specific and concrete harms that warrant continued sealing on appeal. [Back to Top]
  16. The interim rule states that any portions of the excerpts that I want filed under seal must be placed in a separate volume at the end of my excerpts of record but the circuit rules state that the documents should be presented in reverse chronological order. How can I preserve the chronological order if certain documents are placed in a separate volume? How should the excerpts as a whole be paginated?
    Documents you request to be filed under seal are exempt from the reverse chronological order sequencing described in Circuit Rule 30-1.6. The excerpts should be paginated consecutively throughout all volumes; that pagination should continue through the final, sealed volume. See Circuit Rule 30-1.6(c). [Back to Top]
  17. What if I have already filed briefs or excerpts of record under seal pursuant to a notice or stipulation prior to the effective date of this interim rule?
    The Court may require you to file a motion to justify the continued sealing of a document that was filed under seal pursuant to a notice under the previous rule unless the document was required to be sealed by statute or procedural rule. You will be notified in writing by the Court if such a motion is required. [Back to Top]
  18. I forgot to file my motion to close argument more than 14 days before the hearing but it's important that argument not be public. Should I make the motion in open court the day of the hearing?
    No. Although the Court will entertain a late motion if necessary, do not wait until the day of the hearing. File a motion and call the Court immediately to advise the courtroom deputy of the late filing of the motion. The motion should explain the untimely filing as well as the need for a closed argument. Remember that motions in calendared cases must include the information noted in Circuit Rule 25-4. [Back to Top]

If you still have questions about CM/ECF after reviewing the information in this page, please do the following:

  1. Check the FAQs on this site.
  2. Check the CM/ECF Frequently Asked Questions page at PACER. (link opens in new window or tab)
  3. Check the PACER Frequently Asked Questions page. (link opens in new window or tab)
  4. If you still do not have an answer, submit your question using this form: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/cmecf/feedback/. You can expect a reply from the Court during the Court's business hours, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific Time. Note: If you submit a question, please do not also send an email, since that will only result in duplicate requests to the help desk.

Last Update: 13 November 2017

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