There is a constitutional and statutory presumption in favor of public access to judicial proceedings. (Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 100 S.Ct. 2814, 65 L.Ed.2d 973; Judiciary Law Section 4.) Judicial proceedings, including matrimonial actions, are presumptively open to the public and the press unless there are compelling reasons for closure. (Matter of Herald v. Weisenberg, 89 A.D.2d 224, 455 N.Y.S.2d 413, affd. 59 N.Y.2d 378, 465 N.Y.S.2d 862 (1983)).

The public’s right to know ordinarily outweighs the privacy of individuals. Matrimonial actions are sealed under Domestic Relations Law Section 235(1). It provides that an officer of the court with whom the proceedings in a matrimonial action, agreement of separation, proceeding for custody, visitation, or maintenance of a child are filed, or before whom the testimony is taken, may not permit a copy of any of the pleadings, or papers or testimony, to be examined or taken by any other person than a party, or the attorney or counsel of a party, except by order of the court. However, there is no existing cause of action for a violation of this statutory mandate.