On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civil Action No. 04-CV-00621) District Judge: Honorable Sylvia H. Rambo, District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greenberg, Circuit Judge.
Before: ALITO, BECKER, and GREENBERG, Circuit Judges.
This matter comes on before this court on an appeal by Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. ("PNI") from an order of the district court denying its motion to vacate a protective order. Though PNI originally was not a party in this case, it sought to intervene and asked the court to vacate the protective order which had designated as confidential "all information" produced during the course of the action. App. at 14.*fn1 The district court granted PNI's motion to intervene but denied its motion to vacate the protective order. Because the district court erred in denying PNI's motion to vacate the protective order, we will reverse the district court's order to the extent that it denied that prong of PNI's motion.
The facts germane to this appeal are not complex. John Shingara, an employee of the Pennsylvania State Police, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several other employees of the Pennsylvania State Police (the "defendants"). Shingara alleges that the defendants retaliated against him for speaking out about allegedly faulty radar speed detection devices that the State Police used. Through discovery, Shingara obtained documents related to those devices. Shingara's counsel gave some of those documents to PNI and PNI relied on them in publishing newspaper articles regarding the allegedly faulty radar devices. After PNI published those articles, the defendants, at a time when PNI was not yet a party in this case, without notice to PNI, through an oral motion sought a protective order from the district court seeking to prevent further disclosure of discovery documents to the media. On December 14, 2004, the district court granted the motion and entered the following order:
1) Defendants' motion for a protective order is GRANTED.
2) All information, including documents, deposition testimony, and other responses to discovery, produced or otherwise disclosed by either of the parties, including any witness for either of the parties, during the course of this action shall be held in confidence and shall be used only for purposes of this action and shall not be disclosed or made available to any persons other than the parties, their attorneys, including in-house counsel, persons employed in such attorneys' offices or by such attorneys who are assisting counsel in this action, or any independent consultant or expert retained or employed for purposes of this action by either of the parties or their attorneys.
3) Should either of the parties find it necessary in the preparation or trial of this action to disclose information obtained in discovery to any person other than a person identified in paragraph 2 above, a notice shall be served on the other party fully identifying the person to whom disclosure is to be made, together with a designation of the specific information or documents to be disclosed to such person. Any objection to the proposed disclosure, and the reasons for the objection, shall be stated in writing within ten days of the receipt of the notice. If that objection is not resolved by agreement, then the matter shall be submitted to this court by the party seeking disclosure, and the disclosure shall not be made pending this court's ruling as to whether the objection should be sustained.
4) This order shall not apply to public documents.
5) Both parties shall comply with Local Rule 83.2.7 and Pa. Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. 3.6.App. at 14-15.
As we have indicated, PNI filed a motion to intervene in Shingara's action and asked the district court to vacate the protective order. In response, on April 11, 2005, the district court granted PNI's motion to intervene but denied its motion to vacate the protective order. PNI timely filed a notice of appeal to this court on April 29, 2005, from the April 11, ...