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United States v. Hatfield

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

March 11, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT NEAL HATFIELD, Defendant.

         R. ANDREW MURRAY UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, KATHERINE T. ARMSTRONG ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

          FOR THE DEFENDANT ROBERT NEAL HATFIELD, RYAN D. BOLICK VIRGINIA M. WOOTEN CRANFILL SUMNER & HARTZOG LLP

          SAMEENA SHINA MAJEED CHIEF MICHAEL S. MAURER DEPUTY CHIEF BETH FRANK COLIN STROUD TRIAL ATTORNEYS HOUSING AND CIVIL ENFORCEMENT SECTION

          CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT AND PROTECTIVE ORDER

          DAVID C. KEESLER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The parties agree that during the course of discovery it may be necessary to disclose certain confidential information relating to the subject matter of this action. They agree that certain categories of such information should be treated as confidential, protected from disclosure outside this litigation, and used only for purposes of prosecuting or defending this action and any appeals. The parties jointly request entry of this proposed Protective Order to limit the disclosure, dissemination, and use of certain identified categories of confidential information, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 5.2(e) and 26(c).

         The United States asserts, in support of this request, that protection of the identified categories of confidential information is necessary because this case involves allegations of sexual harassment against multiple female victims who fear adverse consequences to their housing and safety stemming from their involvement in this litigation. Disclosure of documents in this case will involve the exchange of sensitive personal information with respect to credit applicants, actual and prospective tenants, and purchasers of Robert Hatfield's properties, including information of a private nature that is covered by the scope of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. In addition, discovery in this case may involve financial information of the parties and proprietary, private, and confidential information concerning non-parties. Accordingly, the parties stipulate and agree to, and the Court finds good cause for, entry of this Confidentiality Agreement and Protective Order pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 5.2(e) and 26(c).

         The Court hereby enters the following Confidentiality Agreement and Protective Order:

         1. Contact Between the Defendant and Victims or Witnesses. Defendant or anyone operating on behalf of or at the direction of him (excluding counsel of record, their employees, or anyone hired by Defendant's counsel for the purpose of representing Defendant in this action) shall not contact or attempt to contact any persons identified by the United States in its initial disclosures or other discovery responses as witnesses to, or victims of, the Defendant's alleged discriminatory housing practices. In addition, the Defendant shall not speak to current tenants or debtors about the allegations in the complaint without counsel present. If Defendant proceeds pro se at any time during this action, he shall interact with alleged victims identified in this lawsuit by the United States only in the course of discovery in accordance with the methods and procedures permitted under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If the Defendant proceeds pro se at any time during this action, he shall speak to current tenants or debtors about the allegations in the complaint only in the course of discovery in accordance with the methods and procedures permitted under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, should the Defendant proceed pro se, he may, consistent with paragraph 7, discuss this case with witnesses.

         2. Scope. All documents and materials produced in the course of discovery in this case, including initial disclosures, responses to discovery requests, all deposition testimony and exhibits, and information derived directly therefrom (hereinafter collectively “documents”), are subject to this Order concerning Confidential Information as set forth below. As there is a presumption in favor of open and public judicial proceedings in the federal courts, this Order will be strictly construed in favor of public disclosure and open proceedings wherever possible.

         3. Definition of Confidential Information. As used in this Order, “Confidential Information” is defined as information that the producing party designates in good faith should be protected from disclosure and use outside the litigation because the disclosure and use of such information is restricted by statute or could potentially cause harm to the interests of the parties and/or nonparties. For purposes of this Order, the parties will limit their designation of “Confidential Information” to the following categories of information or documents: names, social security numbers, taxpayer identification numbers, and birth dates; financial information such as financial account numbers, income tax returns, or other personal financial records; personnel records; criminal records and histories, if any; information related to any medical or psychological condition or treatment or effort to seek treatment, including names or types of healthcare providers and dates of visits to providers; and current or past home addresses and telephone numbers and any other personally identifying information regarding any person identified as a witness or potential witness. Confidential Information shall further include the identities of such persons' minor children. Information or documents that are available to the public may not be designated as Confidential Information. The parties may move the Court for the inclusion of additional categories of information as Confidential Information.

         4. Form and Timing of Designation. The producing party may designate documents as containing Confidential Information and therefore subject to protection under this Order by marking or placing the words “CONFIDENTIAL - SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER” (hereinafter “the marking”) on the document and on all copies in a manner that will not interfere with the legibility of the document. For computer data, the medium of which makes such marking impracticable, the producing party shall mark the diskette case and/or accompanying cover letter. As used in this Order, “copies” includes electronic images, duplicates, extracts, summaries, or descriptions that contain the Confidential Information. The marking will be applied prior to or at the time the documents are produced or disclosed. Applying the marking to a document does not mean that the document has any status or protection by statute or otherwise except to the extent and for the purposes of this Order. Copies that are made of any designated documents must also bear the marking, except that indices, electronic databases, or lists of documents that do not contain substantial portions or images of the text of marked documents and do not otherwise disclose the substance of the Confidential Information are not required to be marked. By marking a designated document as confidential, the designating attorney or party appearing pro se thereby certifies that the document contains Confidential Information as defined in this Order.

         5. Inadvertent Failure to Designate. Inadvertent failure to designate any document or material as containing Confidential Information will not constitute a waiver of an otherwise valid claim of confidentiality pursuant to this Order, so long as a claim of confidentiality is asserted within a reasonable time after discovery of the inadvertent failure.

         6. Depositions. Deposition testimony will be deemed confidential only if designated as such when the deposition is taken or within a reasonable time period after receipt of the deposition transcript. Such designation must be specific as to the portions of the transcript and/or any exhibits to be protected.

         7. Protection of Confidential Material.

         (a) General Protections. Designated Confidential Information and the identities of such individuals' children shall not be used or disclosed other than when necessary to prosecute or defend this lawsuit, including any appeals.

         (b) Who May View Designated Confidential Information. Except with the prior written consent of the designating party or prior order of the Court, designated Confidential Information may ...


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