American courts have long recognized that the public enjoys a First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings and records. While forceful, the right is only presumptive, and the public’s interest in access may be overcome with an adequate showing of need.
In the Delaware Court of Chancery, these principles are embodied in Rule 5.1, which was adopted in 2012 to address perceived excesses in “under seal” filings under former Rule 5(g). As the court explained in its memorandum about the adoption of Rule 5.1, the rule’s “overarching purpose” is “to protect the public’s right of access to information about judicial proceedings.” Accordingly, Rule 5.1 begins with the general proposition that all papers filed with the court, all hearing transcripts and exhibits will be available for public access. The rest of the rule principally outlines procedures for filing papers with the court confidentially, and for challenges to confidentiality.
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