Attorney-at-Law

“A SEAL UPON YOUR ARM”

In Uncategorized on 07/15/2021 at 09:28

I’m sure Judge Mark V. Holmes never claimed the wisdom of the author of the words first written hereinabove at the head hereof (as my expensive colleagues would say).

But I really would like to know if he set the seal I and one of my readers found yesterday on the docket in Ernest S. Ryder & Associates, APLC, et al, 2021 T. C. Memo. 88, filed 7/14/21. The opinion, all 191 (count ’em, 191, and I did) pages, appeared in full, unaltered, on the Tax Court website yesterday. Then the docket vanished. I telephoned Public Affairs, and they knew nothing about it. Deadline approaching, I posted my account of the opinion.

I telephoned Judge Holmes’ Chambers first thing this morning, and left the obligatory voicemail posing the question. Had I missed a Rule 27 sealing order or a Rule 103 protective order? It’s more than just possible, as I slalom through hundreds of orders every day, at least glancing at all opinions. And deadline is ever-present; if I haven’t posted by 6 p.m. local time, I’ve lost that day. Being a single-shingle, I often miss blogfodder on the crowded DAWSON site.

But Rule 103s are carefully crafted, the grounds for each restriction stated, and I’d never seen a Rule 103 interdict an entire docket. I’ve blogged numerous Rule 103s, and expressed admiration at the surgical precision with which they’re drafted. Rule 27s mostly cover pro ses who put personally identifiable information in their filings, and the redacted versions become available as soon as filed. See Rule 27(c).

Anyway, Rule 27(b)(2) provides that “any other person may have electronic access at the courthouse to the public record maintained by the Court in electronic form, but may have remote electronic access only to: (A) The docket record maintained by the Court; and (B) any opinion, order, or decision of the Court, but not any other part of the case file.”

Yes, the Judge can issue a protective order under Rule 27(d), but that only provides for redaction or an order of the Rule 103 kind.

I’ve seen any number of dockets sealed post-DAWSON with no explanation, but in some cases the seals were removed, likewise with no explanation.

I assert that Section 7461 prohibits a complete suppression of the docket.

I know blowers get special protections, but Ernie is no whistleblower. Rule 345 anonymity is off the table. And I’ve seen that waived before.

So who put the seal on Ernie’s docket? Is it another specimen of the case I mentioned in my blogpost “Welcome to DAWSON,” 5/4/21?

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