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Chapter I - Subchapter D

§ 1-49 Public Access to Proceedings

Closure of Courtroom

Application that respondent’s wife and a friend be permitted to observe the undercover witness’ testimony was denied where divulging the witness’ identity would be tantamount to placing him in jeopardy and would compromise ongoing police investigations. Under paragraph (a) of this section, all OATH hearings are open unless legally recognized grounds exist for closure. This rule was interpreted in light of section 1-04, which gives the administrative law judge discretion to waive or modify trial rules as may be appropriate in a particular case to promote the just and fair adjudication of cases. Dep’t of Correction v. Lowndes, OATH Index No. 1662/99 (July 29, 1999).

Publication of Decisions, Redactions

Exclusion of Information Sua Sponte

Pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, name of applicant challenging denial of domestic partnership registration is withheld from publication in accordance with local law and City Clerk’s rule which provides for confidentiality of domestic partnership records. Office of City Clerk v. Anonymous, OATH Index No. 1157/11 (Mar. 7, 2011), adopted, Clerk’s Dec. (Oct. 28, 2011).

Where case involved discussion of respondent’s mental health, ALJ sua sponte redacted respondent’s name to protect his privacy rights under subsection (d) of this section.  Human Resources Admin. v. Anonymous, OATH Index No. 1242/10 (May 4, 2010), modified on penalty, Admin/Comm’r Determination (June 16, 2010), aff’d, NYC Civ. Serv. Comm’n Item No. CD 11-17-A (Apr. 29, 2011).

Request to Remove Information

ALJ granted respondent’s request to omit her name from a decision pursuant to subsection (d) of this rule due to the personal and sensitive nature of her testimony, in particular, testimony about personal health issues and health issues of her daughter.  Dep’t of Sanitation  v.  Anonymous, OATH Index No. 181/11 (Dec. 9, 2010).

ALJ rejected a joint request by the parties to seal the entire record of a disciplinary action brought against an EMS lieutenant charged with posting private and confidential patient information on his Facebook page.  ALJ did not identify the patient in her decision, and she redacted the patient’s identity from the record (transcripts and exhibits) should it be sought for publication or filed in court.  Lieutenant’s late request to seal his counseling records made by licensed social workers was denied because, regardless of the privacy interests he may have in such records, it was he who placed his health at issue by raising it as a defense or in mitigation of penalty and the request was made after he had submitted the documents into the record at his public trial.  Fire Dep’t  v.  Palleschi, OATH Index No. 192/11 (Dec.  20, 2010).