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In re Duran

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

December 12, 2014

IN RE MATTHEW DURAN, Grand Jury Witness.

ORDER

RICHARD A. JONES, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the mandate of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals following its resolution of an appeal of this court's order granting in part and denying in part a motion to unseal portions of the docket and underlying records in this proceeding ancillary to a grand jury investigation. Index Newspapers LLC, doing business as "The Stranger, " a Seattle weekly newspaper, was both the moving party on the motion to unseal and the appellant.

In the more than six weeks since the Ninth Circuit's October 29, 2014 mandate issued, the court has not received a request for relief from The Stranger, the United States, or Matthew Duran, the grand jury witness on whom the ancillary proceeding focused. The court must nonetheless comply with the Ninth Circuit's mandate.

II. BACKGROUND

Although the court's task today is unrelated to the substance of the grand jury investigation at issue, the court notes for context that this matter arose from a grand jury investigation into vandalism of the William Kenzo Nakamura United States Courthouse on May 1, 2012. The grand jury subpoenaed at least three witnesses. At least two of those witnesses unsuccessfully moved to quash those subpoenas. At least three witnesses then declined to answer all or some of the grand jury's questions. On the Government's motions, the court found in late 2012 and early 2013 that at least three witnesses were in contempt of court and ordered them confined to coerce their testimony. By March 2013, the court had ordered the release of all witnesses confined in this case.

The Ninth Circuit's mandate applies to one of these grand jury witnesses: Matthew Duran. While he was confined, The Stranger moved to unseal the docket related to Mr. Duran's fight against the grand jury subpoena and the contempt finding. The court denied that motion in large part, unsealing only the transcripts of portions of Mr. Duran's (and another witness's) contempt hearings that were held in open court.

In United States v. Index Newspapers LLC, 766 F.3d 1072 (9th Cir. 2014), a Ninth Circuit panel held that the court had been too restrictive. It left the following roadmap as to what portions of the court's records it was to unseal:

We AFFIRM the district court's decision to maintain under seal: (1) the transcript and filings related to Duran's motion to quash; (2) the portion of the transcript of Duran's contempt proceeding during which matters occurring before the grand jury were discussed; and (3) the motion to hold Duran in contempt.
We REMAND for the district court to unseal the electronic and paper docket for the documents filed in Duran's contempt proceeding. The Stranger's July 12, 2013 motion to unseal the district court docket is MOOT.
We REVERSE the district court's decision to maintain under seal the order holding Duran in contempt and ordering him confined and we REMAND for the district court to unseal that order.
We REMAND so the district court may unseal the transcript and the filings related to Duran's confinement status hearing, the filings related to Duran's request for release, and the district court filings related to The Stranger's motion to unseal, subject to any redactions it may deem necessary and that are in accord with this opinion.

Id. at 1097-98. As noted, neither the Stranger, Mr. Duran, nor the Government requested relief from this court since the Ninth Circuit issued its mandate. The court will thus ...


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