44 F.3d 141 (2nd Cir. 1995), 865, United States v. Amodeo

Docket Nº:865, 967, Dockets 94-6194, 94-6212.
Citation:44 F.3d 141
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Anthony R. AMODEO, Sr.,
Case Date:January 04, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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Page 141

44 F.3d 141 (2nd Cir. 1995)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,

v.

Anthony R. AMODEO, Sr., "Chick," President and Business

Manager of Local 100 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant

Employees International Union, AFL-CIO; Anthony R. Amodeo,

Jr., Vice-President of Local 100 of the Hotel Employees &

Restaurant Employees International Union, AFL-CIO; Local

100 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees

International Union, AFL-CIO, and Hotel Employees &

Restaurant Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, Defendants.

NEW YORK NEWSDAY, INC., Non-Party-Applicant-Appellee,

v.

MEYER, SUOZZI, ENGLISH & KLEIN, P.C., Affected-Non-Party-Appellant.

Nos. 865, 967, Dockets 94-6194, 94-6212.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

January 4, 1995

Argued Sept. 23, 1994.

Page 142

Stephen Gillers, New York City, for affected-non-party-appellant.

Christopher J. Nolan, Melville, NY, for non-party-applicant-appellee.

Anthony M. Supino, Arkin Schaffer & Supino, New York City, submitted a brief for amicus curiae Mary Shannon Little.

Before: VAN GRAAFEILAND, MINER and McLAUGHLIN, Circuit Judges.

MINER, Circuit Judge:

Affected-non-party-appellant-cross-appellee Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. ("Meyer, Suozzi"), a law firm, appeals from an order entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Patterson, J.) releasing a modified version of a sealed investigative report filed with the court. The report was prepared and filed by Mary Shannon Little who, under the provisions of a Consent Decree, was appointed Court Officer to investigate union-related corruption and take appropriate remedial action. After non-party-applicant New York Newsday, Inc. ("Newsday"), a newspaper publisher, moved to unseal the original report, the Court Officer submitted an edited and redacted copy to the court in camera. The district court ordered the release of the report with the modifications made by the Court Officer. In its cross-appeal, Newsday challenges the district court's reliance on the Court Officer, arguing that the task of editing and redacting must be performed only by the court itself.

In ordering the unsealing and the release of the investigative report, the district court determined that the report was a court record to which the common law right of access applies. The court found that Meyer, Suozzi had not carried its burden of showing that it is in the public interest that the modified report remain under seal. The district court accepted the Court Officer's representation that release of the edited and redacted version would not jeopardize law enforcement interests, including the identity of cooperating witnesses. On appeal, Meyer, Suozzi contends that law enforcement and privacy interests preclude the release of the Court Officer's report, that the mere filing of the report did not extinguish Meyer, Suozzi's privacy interests and that the district court, although recognizing Meyer, Suozzi's privacy right, improperly concluded that this right was surrendered by virtue of its prior conduct.

We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand with instructions.

Page 143

BACKGROUND

On October 22, 1992, the United States filed its complaint in a RICO action against Local 100 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union ("Local 100") and certain of its officers. According to the complaint, organized crime figures and various corrupt individuals had infiltrated and gained control over Local 100, exploited their control for personal gain and regularly yielded the rights of the union members in return for illicit payoffs. A Consent Decree settling the action was filed on October 23, 1992. The Consent Decree appointed Henry Tamarin as Trustee "[t]o administer, supervise and conduct the daily affairs of Local 100" and conferred upon him numerous other powers in regard to the appointment and election of officers and employees of Local 100, the marshaling of the union's assets, the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, the supervision of the union's finances and other matters.

The Consent Decree also appointed Mary Shannon Little, whose Report is the subject of the action giving rise to this appeal, as Court Officer "to investigate corruption and oversee the actions of the Trustee of Local 100." Conferred upon Ms. Little were powers to investigate alleged corruption within the union, to investigate alleged misconduct by employers under collective bargaining agreements with Local 100, to supervise and assist the Trustee in recovering assets of Local 100, to review the books and records of the union and to refer possible criminal law violations to the appropriate local or federal law enforcement authorities. The Consent Decree provides Ms. Little with the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents and to take testimony under oath in carrying out her duties. It also provides her with "all of the powers, privileges and immunities of a person appointed pursuant to Rule 66, Fed.R.Civ.Pro. and which are customary for court appointed offices [sic] performing similar assignments." (Rule 66 is entitled "Receivers Appointed by Federal Courts.").

According to the Consent Decree, the Court Officer may "apply to the Court for such assistance as may be necessary and appropriate" to execute her powers. Her term of office is eighteen months, unless extended, and she may be removed for cause. If any party to the Consent Decree applies for enforcement of, or relief from, any of the provisions of the Decree, the court may grant equitable and just relief, "consider[ing] the record of all proceedings ... to the date of the application." In the discharge of her duties, the Court Officer already has subpoenaed and reviewed hundreds of documents and interviewed hundreds of witnesses. She has received information from...

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