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The long arm of the law

Post by Kim Bradford on Sep. 1, 2009 at 11:07 am with No Comments »
September 1, 2009 1:02 pm

Nothing like an outrageous court ruling to get the blood flowing in the morning…

This apparently has been making the rounds on the Internet for a few days now, but I just came across it: A federal judge recently ordered Westlaw and Lexis to erase his published opinions from their database. The reason? The order was a condition of Amtrak’s settlement with two Pennsylvania teens who suffered serious burns when they climbed onto a parked rail car.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel vacated his opinions and sent word to Westlaw and Lexis to delete them. Fortunately, bloggers are helping preserve the record. But that shouldn’t have to be their job. It’s bad enough when courts seal records without due regard for the public interest. But deleting already published opinions from private legal databases?

The Legal Intelligencer reports:

Exactly how the lawyers went about persuading Stengel to take such an unusual step is impossible to say because all of the court papers are under seal and none of the lawyers will talk about it.

So much for judicial accountability.

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