Taylor, MI asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Libel & Slander and Probate for Michigan

Q: How is it known to the public if court records are or files are sealed?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: There is typically no way for the general public to know if court records or files have been sealed unless this is specifically disclosed by the court. Sealed records are, by definition, restricted from public access and inspection.

Instead, here is what generally happens when records are sealed:

• The court will remove case information and documents from publicly accessible case management systems and official record archives.

• Case number indexes and docket information that is open to the public to search will simply omit mentioning the sealed case altogether, leaving no trace of its existence.

• If a member of the public attempts to find a sealed case number or access sealed files through record requests, they will simply find no corresponding records. No notification is provided about sealed status.

• The only parties made aware that records have been sealed are those directly involved in the case before the seal order was made.

So in summary – sealed court case information is contained from public awareness by removing accessible references to it outright rather than notifying the public it has been sealed. Record removal, not record labels, keeps the sealed status confidential.

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