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Motion to Seal Document

Official Procedure Last Change May 9, 2023

Motion to Seal Document

How to file: 

Location of event: Bankruptcy > Motions, Applications & Briefs > Seal Document, Motion to

Things to be aware of when filing: The documents to be sealed must not be attached to the Motion to Seal.

General Information

  • Any party wishing to file a sealed document must file a Motion to Seal Document prior to filing said pleading. 
  • Upon approval of a Motion to Seal Document, documents are filed electronically using the Sealed Documents event, except for highly sensitive documents, which must be submitted on paper to the Clerk's office in a sealed envelope marked Highly Sensitive Document, with a copy of the Order Granting Motion to Seal Document attached to the outside of the envelope.
    • Highly Sensitive Documents: Highly Sensitive Documents (“HSDs”) are documents that are likely to be targeted in breaches of judiciary computer systems for which the protections provided by 11 U.S.C. § 107 and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9037 are not adequate.

    • Examples of HSDs: The following types of documents are examples of HSDs: classified documents; documents relating to matters of national security, foreign sovereign interests, terrorism, cybersecurity, the investigation of public officials, or which concern the reputational interests of the United States; and documents containing sensitive commercial information, intellectual property, or trade secrets likely to be of interest to foreign powers or the disclosure of which would cause significant external damage.

    • Documents Not Considered HSDs: Few documents that meet the criteria for filing under seal will qualify for treatment as an HSD. The following types of documents generally are not considered HSDs: bank records; business records; financial records; tax records; documents reporting settlements; Social Security records and other documents containing Social Security numbers or taxpayer identification numbers; health records; criminal records; documents containing information about minors; sealed filings in civil and administrative cases; documents sealed to protect the reputation of parties or counsel; documents that originally contained highly sensitive information but which can still fulfill their purpose after highly sensitive information has been redacted; documents containing unredacted personal identifiers listed in Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9037; and documents to which public access is routinely restricted to protect privacy and prevent identity theft, including sealed filings in many bankruptcy cases and adversary proceedings that are not sufficiently sensitive to require HSD treatment and that may continue to be sealed in CM/ECF as necessary.

  • Additional information about filing documents under seal can be found in the ECF Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual.

Filing requirements

  • The documents to be sealed must not be attached to the Motion to Seal. These should be filed separately once the Order Granting Motion to Seal has been entered. Highly sensitive documents must be submitted on paper to the Clerk's office in a sealed envelope marked Highly Sensitive Document, with a copy of the Order Granting Motion to Seal Document attached to the outside of the envelope.
  • The Motion must be signed by the filing party or their attorney.
  • The title of the Motion must include the phrase Highly Sensitive Document if seeking to seal such a document.
  • A Certificate of Service must be included certifying that the Motion to Seal was served on the debtor or debtor's attorney, the Trustee and the US Trustee.
  • No proposed order need be uploaded - the court will prepare one.
  • The Motion should give a date certain on which the documents will become unsealed, and should specify what should happen to the documents after becoming unsealed. Contact Chambers if guidance is needed as to directions for unsealing the document.

Step-by-Step Instructions

If you wish to have the entire case kept under seal, as opposed to filing some selected document(s) under seal, do not use this event. Instead, follow procedures for Motion to Seal Case

1. Log into CM/ECF.

2. Select Bankruptcy > Motions, Applications & Briefs.

3. Enter case number (in the format xx-xxxxx) and click Next.

4. Select Seal Document, Motion to from the event list and click Next.

5. Select appropriate radio button to indicate whether or not the Motion you are filing is amended.

6. Check box if jointly filing with another attorney. Click Next.

7. If you indicated that you are filing jointly with other attorney(s), select additional attorney(s) and click Next.

Note: You cannot add attorneys. Only attorneys who have previously entered an appearance will be available for selection.

8. Select the party filer. If the party is not listed, or cannot be selected, view instructions on adding a new party. Click Next.

Note: The "Attorney/Party Association” screen may appear. If your party selection was correct, check the box to create an association and click Next.

9. Select appropriate radio button to indicate whether the document you are seeking to seal is a Highly Sensitive Document (pursuant to General Order 21-0001) and click Next.

Note: If you are seeking to seal a Highly Sensitive Document, that expression must be used in the title of your Motion.

10. A warning message is displayed. Click Next.

11. Browse to attach the Motion only (do not attach documents to be sealed) (pdf file). Click Next.

12. If you are filing this Motion prior to filing the sealed  document: Click Next.

      If you are filing this Motion to seal a document that has previously been filed:

  • Check the box and click Next.
  • Select the category of the document that you are seeking to seal. If you are not sure, leave all categories selected.  Click Next.
  • Select the box next to the docket event to which the motion relates and click Next.

13. If you indicated in step 5 that you are filing an amended motion, all pending motions on the docket are displayed. Select the motion that is being amended and click Next.

14. Select prefix text, if applicable, and click Next.

Note: The prefix text option is not available if you indicated in Step 5 that the Motion you are filing is amended.

15. Verify final docket text. If correct, click Next to submit.

Note: The Notice of Electronic Filing displays giving you the document number. Copies of this notice are immediately e-mailed to all participants who receive electronic notification in the case.