Privacy and Domestic Violence in Court
William & Mary Journal of Women & Law, Vol. 16, p. 237, 2010
49 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2010
Date Written: July 29, 2010
This paper examines the nature of domestic violence victims' privacy interests not in the home, as the traditional analysis has focused, but rather once the matter has proceeded to court. Unlike the home – the archetypal zone of human privacy – courtrooms and court records feature the exact opposite presumption: what happens in court is public. A presumption of open access to both court proceedings and court records dominates, at least in principle. But the limited nature of the presumption has always left room at the margins for debate about when openness should be sacrificed for privacy and other interests. Particularly with the rise of the Internet and its shake-up of the traditional privacy-versus-access balance in courts, the question of what is “public” and what is “private” in court has become a messy one. What are the privacy interests of domestic violence victims in court? What are the contours of these interests? What is the impact of the Internet on privacy and domestic violence court records? And finally, in what ways, if at all, might technology help promote privacy interests of domestic violence victims in court?
Keywords: Privacy, Domestic Violence, Practical Obsurity, Court Records, Gender, Feminist Legal Thought
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