Getting railroaded

A bit dated, but I didn’t come across it until now.

A article details a very unusual settlement. Settlement of the case Klein v. Amtrak, during the appeal phase after a $24 million judgment in favor of the plaintiff was handed down, included a provision for the trial judge to vacate his published opinions. The vacation of his opinions also includes their removal from Lexis and Westlaw.

What may be most disturbing is that the defense lawyers were allowed to seal their motions. From the article:

Robert C. Clothier of Fox Rothschild, who has handled access cases for The Legal Intelligencer, said he was troubled by the court’s decision to allow the defense lawyers to file all of their motions under seal, including the motion that asked for permission to seal the other papers.

To justify sealing any document, Clothier said, the courts have consistently held that it is necessary to “articulate on the record” the extraordinary circumstances that justify secrecy. As a result, he said, the motion to seal itself cannot be under seal.

And I’m inclined to agree here. This is clearly improper. I don’t know what the judge could have been thinking here. Is it any wonder we have so much contempt for lawyers and the so-called “justice system” when such clearly improper decisions are made?

I’d like to know what was so damning about these vacated opinions Amtrak wants to disappear. Hopefully, someone out there kept a copy. Sunlight really is the best disinfectant, and I think it’s time the rest of us see what Amtrak is trying to keep in the dark.