In a published opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that MCR 8.119(F)(5) does not give a trial court the discretion to seal prior court orders. Jenson v Puste arose out of a 2006 divorce case where the plaintiff wife obtained a PPO against her ex-husband. The PPO lasted for a year. In 2009, the ex-husband sought an order vacating the PPO. He argued that the court had discretion to seal the order for good cause. To support the motion he cited difficulty obtaining employment as a result of the PPO on his record.
The COA declined to read MCR 8.119(F)(5) as discrtionery. To the contrary, it held that the court rule only allows discretion to seal court records -- and specifically prohibits a court from sealing orders and opinions. Defendant's proposed interpretation of the rule ignores the rule's purpose of granting public access to court records -- whether those records inhibit employment prospects or not. The lesson: to gain an employer's "seal of approval" don't participate in activity that would generate court records that cannot be sealed.