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sophieh

Removal of unpublished appeals opinion from google search

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I am the victim in a criminal harassment case and there is a very damaging appeal document that has been posted online from the civil case that I need to petition to take off the web as it is causing me harm. I am working with Los Angeles City Attorney.  The pdf that I need removed is the civil appeals court judgment against the person who was convicted with harassing me in criminal court. It is very damaging to me because it is the first result that appears in Google when my name is googled. As the crime victim, this document causes me incredible harm and hurts my chances of employment. 
 
I am wondering how to petition to take this down. Any help you might be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by FindLaw_RE
This post has been edited to remove personal identifying information --Moderator

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Court judgments are public record.  You can contact Google and see if they'll take down the link but that's about the only recourse you have.  Anybody can go to the court house and see all the documents, especially the judgment.  Likewise, most are also available through westlaw or lexus for subscribers who pay the fee. 

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Thanks. I contacted the appeals court and they said that I could write a letter citing compelling evidence to have them remove the document from google. Do you have any tips about how to write this letter? Should a lawyer draft it or is it sufficient for me to do this myself? Please let me know. Thanks. 

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14 hours ago, sophieh said:

there is a very damaging appeal document that has been posted online from the civil case that I need to petition to take off the web as it is causing me harm.

 

"Petition to take off the web"?  There is no such thing -- especially since you're talking about an opinion of the Court of Appeal, which is a matter of public record.  The term "unpublished" simply means that the opinion is not to be published in the official reports.  All appellate opinions are "published" in one form or another, including by being posted at the courts.ca.gov web site.  As noted in the prior response, you could try contacting Google, but I doubt the company would be receptive to such a request.  If the company were in the habit of altering its search engine just because someone thinks some particular content is harmful, it would need a veritable army of employees solely for that purpose, and its search engine would lose all credibility.

 

 

13 hours ago, sophieh said:

I contacted the appeals court and they said that I could write a letter citing compelling evidence to have them remove the document from google.

 

I don't really know what you mean by "remove the document from google."  Google is a private entity that operates a search engine.  When you run a google search for a non-celebrity, the results are simply what the search engine finds elsewhere on the internet.  Google doesn't maintain the content; it merely directs you to places where the content can be located.  Moreover, the Court of Appeal has no authority to dictate what results are returned by Google's search engine.  The only thing the Court of Appeal could do would be to remove the opinion from the court's web site, but the opinion would remain public record.

 

 

13 hours ago, sophieh said:

Do you have any tips about how to write this letter? Should a lawyer draft it or is it sufficient for me to do this myself?

 

Unless the person at the court with whom you spoke cited a rule that allows for this procedure, there isn't much guidance anyone here can offer you, except to say that any letter should not be written the same way you wrote your post.  Your post merely claims that the availability of the opinion is causing you harm, but you didn't offer any explanation as to why or how it is doing so.  Focus on the words "compelling evidence."

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Thanks for replying. Yes, the request is directed to the court to remove it from the website. It is still searchable as public record. And I do understand that I need compelling evidence. I am wondering if this evidence, along with a letter from my personal therapist and school administrator supporting my case is sufficient:

 

1. Psychologically wounds because of the similarity of these documents to the methods he employed by using the Internet to stalk me and harass me.
2. Content- what is written on the first page is a detailed account of their lies about my sex life
3. I am in training as a psychologist who wishes to counsel young women who have been abused yet when googled, the first result is a document laced with false personal details of their flawed accounts of our dating relationship, our supposed sex life, and the nature and details of his pursuit of our relationship after it ended and his stalking and harassing me.
4. I am a crime victim in this case, and the crime was committed by the defendant in this civil case. The defendant was convicted of harassing me in criminal court, and hence my criminal protective order should protect me. Yet these documents expose me as the victim.

 

Please let me know if you know. I appreciate the help. 

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49 minutes ago, sophieh said:

I am wondering if this evidence, along with a letter from my personal therapist and school administrator supporting my case is sufficient

 

1. This won't have any impact.  You are "[p]sychologically wound[ed]" because of what happened, not because of the court's opinion, and you're not obligated to read the court's opinion ever again.  Moreover, you knew (or should have known) when you initiated the legal action that it could result in an appeal and, consequently, a written opinion.

 

2. I'm not sure to whom "their" refers (you refer to "their lies" and, in item #3, you refer to "their flawed accounts of [your] dating relationship" but then to "his pursuing of [your] relationship"), but I assume that the opinion contains a summary of the parties allegations.  That's part and parcel of any legal action.

 

3. This seems to be basically the same thing as #2.  However, it's worth pointing out that the opinion will not always be the first thing that comes up when one googles your name.

 

4. I don't really understand what you're getting at here.  The protective order presumably prohibits your ex from contacting you; it has nothing to do with the details of the case being public record.

 

Obviously, I'm at a disadvantage because I can't read the opinion, and I understand you don't want to post a link or too many details, but nothing you have posted suggests to me any basis for the court to remove the opinion from its web site.  If you had an attorney representing you in this case, you should discuss this with him/her.

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Thank you for your answer. Yes, I do not wish to post the document - but in a nutshell it is the appeal by the defendant against the civil restraining order granted to me. It includes the defendant's summary of our dating relationship and is a flawed account, and goes into graphic detail of our supposed sexual relationship.

 

If none of what I posted above constitutes compelling evidence, can you please provide me with some examples of what does constitute compelling evidence?

 

I appreciate your help very much.

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22 minutes ago, sophieh said:

can you please provide me with some examples of what does constitute compelling evidence?

 

Let's back up a second.

 

You wrote that someone (who?) at the Court of Appeal told you that you "could write a letter citing compelling evidence to have [the court] remove the" opinion from the web site.  Apparently, the person who told you this didn't cite any law or rule.  I took a quick look at Title 8 of the California Rules of Court (which concern appeals), and I saw nothing about any procedure that would apply to what you're talking about.  The only rules relate to "official publication" and "depublication."  Those rules are important because opinions that are not "officially published" may not be cited as precedent.  As I mentioned above, however, an opinion's "publication" status doesn't have anything to do with its availability as a public record document.  All that being said, I'm skeptical that the court would ever act on a request to have an opinion removed from the web site.

 

Without a rule that says words to the effect that, "upon presentation of compelling evidence, the court may remove an opinion from the court's web site," all I can do is apply my own interpretation of the term "compelling evidence," and I explained why the four things you listed don't meet my subjective definition of that term (and, in my opinion, wouldn't likely meet any reasonable definition of that term).  As I mentioned, a lot of the things you wrote about are inherent in any litigation, so you'd want to cite things are are particularly unique to your case.  You wrote that the availability of the opinion on the court's web site is "hurt[ing] [your] chances of employment."  Do you have documentation to support that -- e.g., something in writing from a prospective employer who refused to hire you because of what the opinion said?  If so, that might help.  You also wrote that "this document causes me incredible harm."  How is the document -- as opposed to the events discussed in the document or the claims that your ex made in the legal action -- causing you any harm?  Has anyone that you know actually googled your name and found and read the opinion?  Maybe I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like it's just you googling your own name and being traumatized that the opinion is the first thing that comes up.  As I mentioned, that can be easily avoided by you not doing those things.

 

But again, even with the most objectively "compelling evidence," I'm skeptical that the court would even consider, much less act on, this sort of request.

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I wrote the executive clerk of the appeals court and he instructed me to write a letter. He said these requests are granted on a rare basis.  He did not cite any rule. But he emphasized I needed compelling evidence.

 

I will be going to a self-help clinic next Wednesday and will have more answers by then.

 

So compelling evidence is considered anything I can justifiably prove? Will a letter from my school advisor explaining that my chances for practicum and internship placement are gravely hampered by a google result such as this? Or can it only be something that has already happened? Can you please provide me with any other examples of what is considered as compelling evidence?

 

Thank you.

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1 hour ago, sophieh said:

So compelling evidence is considered anything I can justifiably prove?

 

In this context, "compelling evidence" is not a term that has a defined meaning (beyond the ordinary words "compelling" and "evidence").  My guess would be that the court would only consider a request that is based on evidence of a high probability that you will suffer significant harm that is directly related to the availability of the opinion on the web site, and which harm likely will be prevented if the opinion is removed from the web site.

 

 

1 hour ago, sophieh said:

Will a letter from my school advisor explaining that my chances for practicum and internship placement are gravely hampered by a google result such as this?

 

I don't know if it will help, but it won't likely hurt.  And, again, remember that the court has no authority to order Google to do anything as concerns search engine results.  Even if the opinion is removed from the court's web site, a google search may still retrieve the result (with anyone who clicks on it being directed to a dead link).

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Thank you very much for your input. I really appreciate this. I think I have a good idea what I need to write now. I will have a better idea after talking to the clerk in person next week. And yes, I understand about Google and know what their take-down rules are. 

 

If you find any more information you think might be helpful I would really appreciate it. Again, thanks so much for your help.

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