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EXTERNAL AFFAIRS DIVISION
231 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
(860) 757-2270, Fax (860) 757-2215

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 6, 2003

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Press Statement Regarding the Sealing of Files

Chief Justice William J. Sullivan today announced that a group of judges he asked to review the practice of sealing files has unanimously agreed that the current practice of maintaining secret files must be discontinued.

The Chief Justice said, "The interests of justice sometime require that a judge seal a file or specific documents within. However, I agree with the group of judges that secret files may undermine public trust and confidence in our state courts, something that we have worked hard to strengthen over the past several years and will continue to do."

After consulting with the judges, Chief Justice Sullivan and Judge Joseph H. Pellegrino, Chief Court Administrator, decided that the rules governing Connecticut's courts should be amended to eliminate the practice of maintaining secret files and to provide the judiciary with more specific criteria for sealing cases. Therefore, the Chief Justice and Judge Pellegrino have referred these matters to the Rules Committee of the Superior Court. This Committee will study the proposed changes and make recommendations to the Judges of the Superior Court at their annual meeting in June.

"The court system exists for the benefit of the citizens it serves and is the cornerstone of our democracy. As such, the judiciary has the obligation to ensure that the administration of justice occurs in an open forum, unless there is an extraordinarily compelling reason to do otherwise," Chief Justice Sullivan said.

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