The Second Circuit, Court of Appeal for California (Los Angeles) has published an opinion upholding last year’s ruling by the Superior Court that divorce proceedings cannot be closed to the public. I previously wrote about the case in which Ronald Burkle sought to have portions of his divorce file sealed. The Circuit Court summary mirrored the conclusions of the lower court: the court should not be mandated to suspend discretion over the sealing of specific documents
Family Code section 2024.61 requires a court, upon the request of a party to a divorce proceeding, to seal any pleading that lists and provides the location or identifying information about the financial assets and liabilities of the parties. We conclude that section 2024.6 is unconstitutional on its face. The First Amendment provides a right of access to court records in divorce proceedings. While the privacy interests protected by section 2024.6 may override the First Amendment right of access in an appropriate case, the statute is not narrowly tailored to serve overriding privacy interests. Because less restrictive means exist to achieve the statutory objective, section 2024.6 operates as an undue burden on the First Amendment right of public access to court records.