.'
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE TWENTY-SECOND JUDICIAL CmCUIT
McHENRY COUNTY, ILLINOIS
SHARON ANN MERONI (alk/a )
CHALICE JACKSON) PATRIOT'S )
HEART MEDIA NETWORK, INC., )
Members JOHN DOES and JANE DOES )
1-20, Registered voters and Members of )
PATRIOT'S HEART MEDIA )
NETWORK, INC. (728 NW HWY., Fox )
River Grove IlIi!J,ois 847-304-8800) )
)
)
)
V )
)
)
)
MCHENRY COUNTY GRAND JURY )
FOREMAN an4 GRAND JURY )
MEMBERS )
09MR399
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
INTRODUCTION. The issue presented to this court on a purported emergency
basis is whether any part of, or all, of the court file in the above entitled cause should be
sealed and impoUnded.
FACTS. Plaintiff commenced this petition for miscellaneous relief,
asking for a court order which would allow her to present testimony in front of the Grand
Jury of McHenry County which would support her claims on behalf of the named
corporate plaint(ff that certain election fraud or frauds had occurred. An amended petition
for the same r e l i ~ f was filed and heard on January 20, 2010. The requested relief was
denied. The petilioner has expressed an intention to appeal the court's ruling.
Petitioner now c9mes before the court on a motion to impound the court file because the
threatened releaSe of the court file's infonnation to a group known as Politijab will
constitute and uilwarranted invasion of her privacy and subject her to harassment and
threats of imminent harm.
LAW In Nixon v. 1.f1umer Communications. Inc. (1978).435 U.S. 589. 597. 98 S.Cc ..
1306. 1312. 55 L.Ed.2d 570. 579. the Supreme Court recognized a general common law
right of access to public records and documents, including judicial records, existed.
Under this right, "a presumption in favor of access arises" (Minneapolis Star & Tribune
1
.t'·,:-;
"
Co. v. Schumacher (Minn.1986). 392 N. W.2d 197. 202: Nixon. 435 U.S. at 602. 98 S.Ct.
at 1314. 55 L.Ed.2d at 582) and establishes, as a general matter, that court files should be
open to the public for and copying (United S,ates v. Corbin (7th Cir. 1 989).
879 F.2d 224. 228). Although the common law right of access exists, a court has certain
inherent power to control its records, and thus, the right to inspect public records is not
absolute. (Deere & Co. v. Fil1lev (1981). 103 III.App.3d 774. 776. 59 III.Dec. 444. 446.
431 N.E.2d 1201. 1203; see also Nix0I1. 435 U.S. at 598. 98 S.Ct. at 1312.55 L.Ed.?d at
580.) This power has been held, in the proper case, to be superior to a public right of
access to court records. (.IFS v. ABU! (J 983). 120 IlI.App.3d 261. 263. 75 IlI.Dec. 908.
910-11. 458 N.E.2d 76.78-79.
When a party seeks to restrict access to judicial records, the court must balance those
interests supporting access, including the "presumption-however gauged-in favor of
public access to judicial records" (Nixon. 435 U.S. at 602. 98 S.Ct. at 1314.55 L.Ed.2d at
582), against those interests asserted for restricting access. (Minneapolis. 392 N.\V.2d at
202-03.) In order to overcome the presumption of access, the moving party bears the
burden of establishing a compelling interest why access should be restricted and that the
protective order is drafted "in the manner least restrictive of the public's interest."
(Shenandoah Publishing HOllse, Inc. v. Fanning (1988). 235 Va. 253. 259. 368 S.E.2d
253. 256.) The decision as to access is "left to the sound discretion of the trial court, a
discretion to be exercised in light of the relevant facts and circumstances of the particular
case." (Nixon. 435 U.S. at 599.98 S.Ct. at 1312-13. 55 L.Ed.2d at 580.) .
FINDINGS Every court file is vested with a presumed public interest
aspect. Opcnness in the operation of the court system insures its fairness. In the instant
case, however, the nature of the case, the allegations contained in the pleadings and the
relief requested have a unique public interest. The challenge is to the validity of elections
and the commission of fraud in relation to those elections. The mere fact that such a
charge has been formally made and that the petiti.oner has moved forward with it in the
public domain is peculiarly within the public's interest and the public's right to know
what is occuring in the judicial system that could affect the election system. No more
important public question could be raised by such a suit.
The petitioner fears unfair, unrestricted and perhaps vitriolic comment in the public
domain, principally on the internet, as a result of the bringing of this lawsuit. The nature
of the case and its importance to the public seriously outweigh any personal
considerations that the plaintiff may have regarding access to the papers filed in this case'
and any critical comments that may be made on account o'f it.
The threat that moved the petitioner to action is apparently a current one. However, the
court file and all it contains has been in the public domain since the suit was filed. Only
after the petitioner has come under critical scrutiny has the alleged necessity for this
protection arisen. It is untimely at best and insubstantial at worst.
2
e····
Petitioner also alleges that there e have been certain personal actions taken against her,
i.e., stolen mail, being followed, etc. None of these has been verified to have been done
by any identified individual or group. The assertion is simply unwarranted speculation,
guess and conjecture.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the petition of the petitioner Sharon Ann Meroni
aka Chalice Jackson for the impoundment of the court file in the above entitled cause is
denied
Dated February 2, 2010
Distribution:
3

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful