United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
COGBURN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court upon Petitioner Mack
Chason Glisson's Motion to Seal documents. (Doc. No. 5.)
Petitioner is represented by Christopher John Heaney of North
Carolina Prisoner Legal Services (“NCPLS”).
is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, who, on
December 18, 2014, was convicted of first-degree murder after
a jury trial in Buncombe County Superior Court. He was
sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of
parole. (§ 2254 Pet. 1-2, Doc. No. 1.)
March 21, 2017, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an
unpublished opinion finding no error in the judgment.
State v. Glisson, 797 S.E.2d 381 ( N.C. Ct. App.
2017) (Table). Petitioner did not seek discretionary review
of the appellate court's decision in the North Carolina
Supreme Court. (§ 2254 Pet. 2.)
through counsel, filed a post-conviction motion for
appropriate relief (“MAR”) in the Buncombe County
Superior Court on April 23, 2018; it was denied on September
26, 2018, without an evidentiary hearing. (§ 2254 Pet.
3-4.) Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in
the North Carolina Court of Appeals on March 28, 2019,
seeking review of the denial of his MAR. (§ 2254 Pet.
13.) The certiorari petition was allowed on May 2, 2019, and
the North Carolina Court of Appeals vacated the order denying
the MAR and remanded the case to the trial court for further
proceedings. (Status Update, Doc. No. 7 (citing State v.
Glisson, P19-213 ( N.C. Ct. App. May 2, 2019)).
Petitioner's MAR is now pending before the Superior Court
of Buncombe County. (Id.)
with the filing of his state certiorari petition, Petitioner
filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §
2254, in this Court. (Doc. No. 1.) He also filed a Motion to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. No. 2), a Motion to hold this
action in abeyance pending exhaustion of state remedies (Doc.
No. 6), and the instant Motion to Seal (Doc. No. 5). On May
10, 2019, the Court entered a written Order granting the
first two Motions and directing Petitioner to correct a
filing error related to the third. (Doc. No. 8.) Petitioner
has corrected the error (Doc. No. 9), and his Motion to Seal
is now ripe for review.
Motion, Petitioner seeks to seal Exhibit A and Exhibit B
submitted in support of his § 2254 Petition, the
memorandum in support of his habeas Petition, and a reference
list to Exhibit A. (Mot. to Seal 1, Doc. No. 5.) Because
Exhibit A (Doc. No. 9) and Exhibit B (Doc. No. 4-2) are
themselves comprised of numbered exhibits, the Court shall
refer to Exhibit A as Appendix A and Exhibit B as Appendix B.
is well settled that the public and press have a qualified
right of access to judicial documents and records filed in
civil and criminal proceedings.” Doe v. Pub.
Citizen, 749 F.3d 246, 265 (4th Cir. 2014) (citing
Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555,
580 n.17 (1980); Nixon v. Warner Communications,
Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978); Media Gen.
Operations, Inc. v. Buchanan, 417 F.3d 424, 428 (4th
Cir.2005)). In Doe, the Fourth Circuit explained:
The right of public access springs from the First Amendment
and the common-law tradition that court proceedings are
presumptively open to public scrutiny. Va. Dep't of
State Police v. Wash. Post, 386 F.3d 567, 575 (4th
Cir.2004). “The distinction between the rights of
access afforded by the common law and the First Amendment is
significant, because the common law does not afford as much
substantive protection to the interests of the press and the
public as does the First Amendment.” In re United
States for an Order Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2703,
707 F.3d 283, 290 (4th Cir.2013) (quoting Va. Dep't
of State Police, 386 F.3d at 575) (internal quotation
marks omitted). The common-law presumptive right of access
extends to all judicial documents and records, and the
presumption can be rebutted only by showing that
“countervailing interests heavily outweigh the public
interests in access.” Rushford [v. New Yorker
Magazine, Inc.], 846 F.2d [249, 253 (4th Cir.
1988)]. By contrast, the First Amendment secures a right of
access “only to particular judicial records and
documents, ” Stone [v. University of Md. Med. Sys.
Corp.], 855 F.2d [178, 180 (4th Cir.1988)], and, when it
applies, access may be restricted only if closure is
“necessitated by a compelling government
interest” and the denial of access is “narrowly
tailored to serve that interest, ” In re Wash. Post
Co., 807 F.2d 383, 390 (4th Cir.1986) (quoting
Press-Enter. Co. v. Superior Court, 464 U.S. 501,
510 (1984) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
749 F.3d at 265-66. In determining whether to seal judicial
a judicial officer must comply with certain procedural
requirements. [In re Washington Post Co., 807 F.2d
383, 390 (4th Cir.1986).] The decision to seal documents must
be made after independent review by a judicial officer, and
supported by ‘findings and conclusions specific enough
for appellate review.' [Baltimore Sun Co. v.
Goetz, 886 F.2d 60, 65-66 (4th Cir. 1989)]. If a
judicial officer determines that full public access is not
appropriate, she ‘must consider alternatives to sealing
the documents' which may include giving the public access
to some of the documents or releasing a redacted version of
the documents. . . .
Media Gen. Operations, Inc. v. Buchanan, 417 F.3d
424, 429 (4th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted).
who seeks to seal any pleading in this Court must comply with
it's Local Rules. Local Civil Rule (“LCvR”)
6.1 provides in relevant part:
6.1 SEALED FILINGS AND PUBLIC ACCESS.
(a) Scope of Rule. To further openness in
civil case proceedings, there is a presumption under
applicable common law and the First Amendment that materials
filed in this Court will be filed unsealed. This Rule governs
any party's request to seal, or otherwise restrict public
access to, any materials filed with the Court or used in
connection with judicial decision-making. As used in this