put out word that we wanted a flier, and we got one." (Pa367).
Plaintiffs have provided many equally glaring examples where Megan's
Law notices were publicly disseminated. In one case, a parent received a
flier which was sent home from school with her child. (Pa155). The
parent, who was also a principal at a different school, made copies of the
Tier 3 notice and distributed it to parents of children who attended the
school at which she was employed. The school was outside the scope of the
notification authorized by the court. In addition, plaintiffs have noted
several incidents where notices were either posted in public places
(Pa45, 145, 146, 150, 213, 262), or systematically distributed in
neighborhoods not within the scope of notification (Pa145, 212, 264).
Defendants ask the Court to overlook any deficiencies in the current
system in light of the compelling purposes served by the Act. However,
the procedural safeguards contained within the Attorney General
Guidelines are crucial to maintaining the constitutional balance between
plaintiffs' privacy interests and the goals of the statute. See Fraternal
Order of Police, 812 F.2d at 117 ("One of the crucial factors in weighing
the competing interests referred to in Westinghouse is `the adequacy of
safeguards to prevent unauthorized disclosure.'") (quoting United States
v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 638 F.2d 570, 577 (3d Cir. 1980)). If, in
practice, these safe-guards fail to limit the release of plaintiffs' home
addresses to those persons with a statutorily defined need for this
information, a different constitutional balance would result.
The Court recognizes that the task assigned to the Attorney General is
not an easy one. It is a difficult proposition to place confidential
information in the hands of the public and then require them to keep it
private, especially information which may have an effect on the safety and
well-being of the community. As Defendants note, "given the nature and
purpose of the law," people will "on occasion share notification
information both in the spirit of the law and, unfortunately, without
respect to the promotion of public safety as intended by the
Legislature." (Defendants' brief, 42-43).
A system of distributing this information with zero "leakage" to
unauthorized persons is, in reality, unattainable. However, the mandate
for the Attorney General is not to devise a perfect system, but one
calculated to achieve the goals of the statute without unreasonably
impinging on the "nontrivial" privacy interests of the plaintiffs. The
record before this Court shows that the current system fails to meet this
standard. Currently, there is no uniform method of distribution which
ensures that, in all twenty-one counties, Megan's Law notices will be
distributed in a manner reasonably calculated to get the information to
those with "a particular need for it" while avoiding "disclosure to those
who have no similar need." Fraternal Order of Police, 812 F.2d at 118.
The Court finds that the Attorney General Guidelines for distributing
Tier 2 and 3 notices unreasonably infringe upon plaintiffs' privacy
rights and orders that they be redrafted to reasonably limit disclosure
to those entitled to receive it.
Plaintiffs have suggested several alternative safeguards which would
help to prevent the improper disclosure of confidential information.
Although there may be merit in several of these suggestions, it is not
the province of the Court to redraft the Attorney General Guidelines. The
Court merely suggests that the new Guidelines create a greater degree of
uniformity among the counties in the way in which they distribute Megan's
Law information and the penalties they impose for improper distribution.
Plaintiffs and defendants both seek orders sealing certain materials
submitted in conjunction with their motions.
Plaintiffs ask the Court to seal their brief and volumes II, III, and IV
of their appendix. Defendants ask the Court to seal the affidavits of
Robert Valdora, Kelly Anne Shelton, Jessica Oppenheim, Barbara
Bakley-Marino, and Betsy Phillips. Neither party disputes that the
information contained within these briefs and exhibits is confidential,
nor that the disclosure of this information will result in a "clearly
defined and serious injury to the part[ies] seeking closure." Miller v.
Indiana Hospital, 16 F.3d 549, 551 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting Publicker
Industries, Inc. v. Cohen, 733 F.2d 1059, 1071 (3d Cir. 1984)).
Accordingly, the Court will grant each request; plaintiffs' brief,
volumes II, III, and IV of plaintiffs' appendix and the five
above-mentioned affidavits will be placed under seal.
For the reasons set forth above, and because there are no genuine
issues of material fact, the Court will grant plaintiffs' motion for
summary judgment and deny defendants' cross-motion. The Court will issue
an order enjoining the enforcement of Megan's Law until the Attorney
General promulgates Guidelines which comply with the holding of this
Court. However the Court will temporarily suspend the enforcement of this
injunction pending appeal to and decision by the Third Circuit. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 62(c). Also, the material outlined in section IV above will
be placed under seal. Court will issue an appropriate order.