Rule 2.577. Procedures for filing confidential name change records under seal
(a) Court approval required
Records in a name change proceeding may not be filed under seal without a court order. A request by a confidential name change petitioner to file records under seal may be made under the procedures in this chapter. A request by any other petitioner to file records under seal must be made under rules 2.550-2.573.
(b) Application to file records in confidential name change proceedings under seal
An application by a confidential name change petitioner to file records under seal must be filed at the time the petition for name change is submitted to the court. The application must be made on the Application to File Documents Under Seal in Name Change Proceeding Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (NC-410) and be accompanied by a Declaration in Support of Application to File Documents Under Seal in Name Change Proceeding Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (form NC-420), containing facts sufficient to justify the sealing.
The application to file under seal must be kept confidential by the court until the court rules on it.
(d) Procedure for lodging of petition for name change
(1) The records that may be filed under seal must be lodged with the court in a sealed envelope.
(2) The petitioner must complete and affix to the envelope a completed Confidential Cover Sheet-Name Change Proceeding Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (form NC-400) and in the space under the title and case number mark it "CONDITIONALLY UNDER SEAL."
(3) On receipt of a petition lodged under this rule, the clerk must endorse the affixed cover sheet with the date of its receipt and must retain but not file the record unless the court orders it filed.
(4)If the court denies the application to seal, the clerk must return the lodged record to the petitioner and must not place it in the case file unless the petitioner notifies the clerk in writing within 10 days after the order denying the application that the unsealed petition and related papers are to be filed.
(e) Consideration of application to file under seal
The court may order that the record be filed under seal if it finds that all of the following factors apply:
(1)There exists an overriding interest that overcomes the right of public access to the record;
(2)The overriding interest supports sealing the record;
(3)A substantial probability exists that the overriding interest will be prejudiced if the record is not sealed;
(4)The proposed order to seal the record is narrowly tailored; and
(5)No less restrictive means exist to achieve the overriding interest.
(1)The order may be issued on Order on Application to File Documents Under Seal in Name Change Proceeding Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (form NC-425).
(2)Any order granting the application to seal must state whether the declaration in support of the application, the order itself, and any other record in the proceeding are to be sealed as well as the petition for name change.
(3) If the court grants an order sealing a record, the clerk must strike out the notation required by (d)(2) on the Confidential Cover Sheet that the matter is filed "CONDITIONALLY UNDER SEAL" and add a notation to that sheet prominently stating "SEALED BY ORDER OF THE COURT ON (DATE)."
(4)If the court grants the application to file under seal and issues an order under (e), the petition and any associated records may be filed under seal and ruled on by the court immediately.
(5)The order must identify any person other than the court who is authorized to inspect the sealed records.
(g) Custody of sealed records
Sealed records must be securely filed and kept separate from the public file in the case.
(h) Motion, application, or petition to unseal record
(1)A sealed record may not be unsealed except by order of the court.
(2)Any member of the public seeking to unseal a record or a court proposing to do so on its own motion must follow the procedures described in rule 2.551(h).
Rule 2.577 adopted effective January 1, 2010.