In Uncategorized on 07/24/2020 at 17:18

I echo that common household request, as I read Judge Albert G (“Scholar Al”) Lauber’s designated hitter, Tamecca Seril a.k.a. Tamecca Tillard, Docket No. 4491-19, filed 7/24/20. Thanks for the designation, Judge. Though I’d read the order earlier, I’m glad I don’t have to search for it as deadline nears.

All y’all will recollect Tamecca’s difficult story, and how she fell into the IRA trap. What, no? Then see my blogpost “The IRA Trap,” 7/8/20.

Within two (count ’em, two) weeks after Judge Scholar Al hit Tamecca with tax, but spared her the chops, Tamecca asks that the entire case be sealed. Judge Scholar Al apparently did seal one trial exhibit.

“By statute, all hearings, reports, and evidence received by the Tax Court are generally public. See I.R.C. §§7458,7461. These sections reflect the well-established principle that official proceedings and records of courts generally shall be open and available to the public. See Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978); Willie Nelson Music Co. v. Commissioner, 85 T.C. 914, 917 (1985). We have the discretionary authority to order all or part of a record to be sealed where such action is necessary to protect trade secrets and confidential information or to avoid annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense. See Tax Court Rule 103(a); Willie Nelson Music Co., 85 T.C. at 918- 919. However, the moving party must show that sufficient countervailing interests outweigh the presumptively paramount public interest in understanding the underlying dispute and its disposition. Ibid.” Order, at p. 1.

OK, Judge, “by statute, all hearings…are generally public.” And in Tamecca’s case, “(T)he balance of interests weighs in favor of openness so that the Court’s reasoning and disposition of these issues may be understood.” Order, at p. 2.

So what about these remote trials that are being scheduled right now? Can the public see any? I know that the Nixon case, supra, as my expensive colleagues would say, says we journos have no greater rights than the general public to view court proceedings and documents involved therein.

But at least give me those rights. Or else how can I understand the court’s reasoning and disposition of issues, and explain them to my readers in 142 countries, territories, SARs, and what-not, if all I get is a bunch of electrons long after the fact?

It’s a cliché, but justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done.

So please pass the remote and let me look at what’s on the screen at these trials.



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