State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_1 > GS_1-72_1

§ 1‑72.1.  Procedure toassert right of access.

(a)        Any personasserting a right of access to a civil judicial proceeding or to a judicialrecord in that proceeding may file a motion in the proceeding for the limitedpurpose of determining the person's right of access. The motion shall notconstitute a request to intervene under the provisions of Rule 24 of the Rulesof Civil Procedure and shall instead be governed by the procedure set forth inthis statute. The movant shall not be considered a party to the action solelyby virtue of filing a motion under this section or participating in proceedingson the motion. An order of the court granting a motion for access made pursuantto this section shall not make the movant a party to the action for any purpose.

(b)        The movant shallserve a copy of its motion on all parties to the proceeding in any mannerprovided in Rule 5 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon receipt of a motionfiled pursuant to this section, the court shall establish the date and locationof the hearing on the motion that shall be set at a time before conducting anyfurther proceedings relative to the matter for which access is sought under themotion. The court shall cause notice of the hearing date and location to beposted at the courthouse where the hearing is scheduled. The movant shall servea copy of the notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing on allparties to the proceeding in any manner provided in Rule 5 of the Rules ofCivil Procedure.

(c)        The court shallrule on the motion after consideration of such facts, legal authority, andargument as the movant and any other party to the action desire to present. Thecourt shall issue a written ruling on the motion that shall contain a statementof reasons for the ruling sufficiently specific to permit appellate review. Theorder may also specify any conditions or limitations on the movant's right ofaccess that the court determines to be warranted under the facts and applicablelaw.

(d)        A party seeking toseal a document or testimony to be used in a court proceeding may submit thedocument or testimony to the court to be reviewed in camera. This subsectionalso applies to (i) any document or testimony that is the subject of a motionmade under this section and that is submitted for review for the purposes ofthe court's consideration of the motion to seal, and (ii) to any document ortestimony that is the subject of a motion made under this section and that wassubmitted under seal or offered in closed session prior to the filing of amotion under this section. Submission of the document or proffer of testimonyto the court pursuant to this section shall not in itself result in thedocument or testimony thereby becoming a judicial record subject toconstitutional, common law, or statutory rights of access unless the documentor testimony is thereafter introduced into evidence after a motion to seal orto restrict access is denied.

(e)        A ruling on amotion made pursuant to this section may be the subject of an immediateinterlocutory appeal by the movant or any party to the proceeding. Notice ofappeal must be given in writing, filed with the court, and served on allparties no later than 10 days after entry of the court's ruling. If notice ofappeal is timely given and given before further proceedings are held in thecourt that might be affected by appellate review of the matter, the court, onits own motion or on the motion of the movant or any party, shall considerwhether to stay any proceedings that could be affected by appellate review ofthe court's ruling on the motion. If notice of appeal is timely given but isgiven only after further proceedings in the trial court that could be affectedby appellate review of the ruling on a motion made pursuant to this section, orif a request for stay of proceedings is made and is denied, then the solerelief that shall be available on any appeal in the event the appellate courtdetermines that the ruling of the trial court was erroneous shall be reversalof the trial court's ruling on the motion and remand for rehearing or retrial.On appeal the court may determine that a ruling of the trial court sealing adocument or restricting access to proceedings or refusing to unseal documentsor open proceedings was erroneously entered, but it may not retroactively orderthe unsealing of documents or the opening of testimony that was sealed orclosed by the trial court's order.

(f)         This section isintended to establish a civil procedure for hearing and determining claims ofaccess to documents and to testimony in civil judicial proceedings and shallnot be deemed or construed to limit, expand, change, or otherwise preempt anyprovisions of substantive law that define or declare the rights andrestrictions with respect to claims of access. Without in any way limiting thegenerality of the foregoing provision, this section shall not apply to juvenileproceedings or court records of juvenile proceedings conducted pursuant toChapters 7A, 7B, 90, or any other Chapter of the General Statutes dealing withjuvenile proceedings.

(g)        Nothing in thissection diminishes the rights of a movant or any party to seek appropriaterelief at any time from the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals through the useof the prerogative writs of mandamus or supersedeas. (2001‑516, s. 1.)