In an anticipated and important decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court’s order requiring the unsealing of an independent monitor’s report detailing HSBC’s compliance with a deferred prosecution agreement. United States v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. (PDF: 284 KB) (Nos. 16-308, 16- 353, 16-1068, 16-1094, July 12, 2017). In so doing, the Second Circuit substantially limited a district court’s power to scrutinize DPAs, thereby following a course similarly embraced by the D.C. Circuit (as discussed in our prior memo (PDF: 27 KB).
In the district court, Judge Gleeson granted the joint request by DOJ and HSBC to approve the DPA, subject to the Court’s ongoing oversight of the DPA’s implementation pursuant to the Court’s asserted “supervisory authority”—a decision we discussed in our earlier memo (PDF: 21 KB). As part of its oversight, the Court ordered the government to file under seal an independent monitor’s report, which eventually led to a member of the public requesting access to the report. Construing that request as a motion to unseal, the Court granted the motion, finding that the monitor’s report was a “judicial document” subject to the public’s qualified First Amendment right of access. The government and HSBC appealed. Continue reading