Rule 5.4. Sealing and Unsealing Court Records
Arizona Revised Statutes AnnotatedRules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Courts of ArizonaEffective: January 1, 2020
Effective: January 1, 2020
16 A.R.S. Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5.4
Rule 5.4. Sealing and Unsealing Court Records
(1) Generally. On motion, stipulation or on its own, a court may order a document to be filed under seal if this rule's requirements are met. Unless the court determines that an entire category or type of document meets this rule's requirements, a court may not enter an order that gives advance authorization to file such documents under seal.
(4) The Clerk's Duties. If the court orders the sealing of a document, the clerk must file the order to seal, file the document under seal as directed in the court's order, and secure the sealed document from public access. Unless the court orders otherwise, the date of the sealed document's filing is the date the document was lodged with the clerk. The clerk must maintain the document under seal until further order of the court. Nothing in this rule is intended to affect the clerk's normal records disposition policy.
(B) Denial of a Motion or Stipulation to Seal. If a request is made under Rule 5.4(f)(2)(A) that the clerk retain a lodged document for the purpose of transmitting it to an appellate court in connection with a challenge to a complete denial of a motion or stipulation to file the document under seal, the clerk must transmit the document to the appellate court under seal. Upon transmittal, the appellate clerk must maintain the document under seal unless the appellate court orders otherwise.
(6) Sanctions. A court may issue monetary sanctions against any person who discloses any document, or any protected portion of a document, the person knows or should know is sealed or lodged under this rule. A court may also issue monetary sanctions against any person who knowingly violates any provision of this rule.
(2) Contents. Any motion or stipulation to file a document under seal must set forth a clear statement of the facts and legal authority justifying the filing of the document under seal, including, if applicable, why the request satisfies the requirements of Rule 5.4(c)(2). It also must state whether any party opposes the request, and, if no party opposes it, the submitting person also must insert the phrase “Not Opposed” below the title of the motion or stipulation.
(5) Public Version. Unless the motion or stipulation seeks to file under seal all of a document's contents, the submitting person must file a publicly accessible version of the document that redacts the portions of the document subject to the motion or stipulation. If a person files a document under seal under an order providing advance authorization to do so and if only part of the document falls within the category or type protected from disclosure under the order, the submitting person must file a publicly accessible version of the document that redacts only the protected portions of the document.
(2) Submission. Unless the clerk has a procedure allowing such documents to be lodged electronically, the person filing the motion or stipulation must submit the document or documents to the clerk in paper form in a secured envelope. A cover sheet must be affixed to the envelope prominently displaying the notation “DOCUMENT(S) PROPOSED FOR FILING UNDER SEAL” and clearly identifying:
(A) Retention. If a document is lodged with the court under this rule, the clerk must retain but not file the document unless the court orders it filed. The clerk may scan the document and retain it electronically. If it does so, it may destroy the paper copy of the document or return it the submitting person.
(B) Public Access. Until the court decides whether to permit the document to be filed under seal, the clerk must not allow public access to the document. If the court denies the motion or stipulation to file the document under seal, the clerk must continue to restrict public access to the document until it may destroy, delete, or return it as provided in Rule 5.4(f) or as the court orders otherwise.
(C) Documents Already in the Public File. If a copy of a lodged document is already in the public file when the motion or stipulation is filed and if the person files a separate written request specifically directed to the clerk asking for such relief (entitled “Request to Clerk to Disallow Public Access to a Document Pending Judicial Review”), the clerk must discontinue allowing public access to the document pending the court's decision whether to permit the document to be filed under seal.
(A) If Completely Denied. If the court denies in full a motion or stipulation to file a document under seal, the clerk must retain the lodged document for at least 7 days after the entry of the order. After that period of time, the clerk may destroy or delete the lodged document or return it to the submitting person unless the submitting person files a written request specifically directed to the clerk (and entitled “Request to Clerk to Retain Lodged Document for Appellate Review”) asking the clerk to retain the lodged document to allow the person to seek appellate review of the denial. If such a request is made, the clerk must maintain the lodged document under seal until the person withdraws the request, the superior court or the appellate court orders otherwise, or the time for appeal expires, at which time the clerk may destroy or delete the lodged document or return it to the submitting person.
(1) Scope. Unless the court orders otherwise, this rule governs the procedure a party should follow if it seeks to file (or disclose the contents of) a document produced by another person and if a protective order or confidentiality agreement requires the party to ask the court to file the document (or the portion of a brief or affidavit disclosing its contents) under seal.
(2) Good Faith Consultation. Before filing anything with the court, the party seeking to file the document or disclose its contents must first attempt to resolve the matter by good faith consultation, as provided in Rule 7.1(h), with the person who produced the document. Among other things, they must confer about whether the document (or a proposed filing describing its contents) meets Rule 5.4(c)(2)'s requirements.
(3) Notice of Lodging. If the issue is not resolved, the party seeking to file the document or disclose its contents must lodge and serve the document (or the proposed filing) under seal under Rule 5.4(e) and file and serve a notice of lodging on all other parties, and, if applicable, on any nonparty who produced the document at issue. The notice must summarize the dispute and set forth the submitting party's position. It also must be accompanied by a Rule 7.1(h) good faith consultation certificate.
(h) Unsealing a Document. On motion by any person or on its own after providing reasonable notice to the parties, the court may order that a document be unsealed based on the standards of Rule 5.4(c)(2). The court's order must state the reasons for unsealing the document or, if the order denies a motion to unseal the document, the reasons for denying it.
(B) Procedure. The filing party or stipulating parties must comply with the requirements of (c), (d), and (e) of this rule. The motion or stipulation must be publicly accessible and may not be filed under seal, but the motion or stipulation may request the court to file under seal all or portions of supporting documents, such as an affidavit or declaration.
(C) If Denied. If the court completely or partially denies a motion or stipulation to file a case-initiating document under seal and the submitting party no longer wishes to prosecute the action due to the complete or partial denial by the court, the submitting party must promptly file a notice of, or stipulation or motion for, dismissal under Rule 41. A party also retains the options provided in (f)(1).
Added Aug. 31, 2017, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Amended Aug. 27, 2019, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
16 A. R. S. Rules Civ. Proc., Rule 5.4, AZ ST RCP Rule 5.4
State Court Rules are current with amendments received through November 15, 2023. The Code of Judicial Administration is current with amendments received through November 1, 2023.
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