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Today the Second Circuit Court of Appeals strongly suggested it would order the Epstein records unsealed after hearing arguments from First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza.

The Court signaled its intent to unseal the records with what’s known as a “show cause” order. A show cause order is a legal term of art that roughy translates to, “You had better give us an excellent reason to change our mind.”

The Court’s full order is available here, and reads:

  • Our precedent clearly establishes that “documents submitted to a court for its consideration in a summary judgment are – as a matter of law – judicial documents to which a strong presumption of access attaches, under both the common law and First Amendment. Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties show good cause why the Court should not unseal the summary judgment motion, including any materials filed in connection with this motion, and the District Court’s summary judgment decision.

 

What’s next?

The other parties may try to justify a reason for keeping the records sealed, although based on this current show cause order and how the oral argument went, the Court is unlikely to be persuaded. You can read about the oral argument here:

Privacy rights versus press freedoms took center stage Wednesday at an explosive federal appeals court hearing in New York, where lawyers argued to unseal confidential court files that could reveal evidence of an underage sex trafficking operation allegedly run by New York multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein and his partner, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reserved judgment in the case, but the panel suggested it was leaning toward the release to the public of vast portions of the court record. The file on the case, which was settled in 2017, contains more than 1,000 documents, lawyers said during oral arguments led by the Miami Herald, which seeks to open the entire file.

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