In the latest development in a long-running court case, Judge Analisa Torres has denied the SEC’s request to seal documents pertaining to a speech by Bill Hinman, director of the agency’s corporate finance division.
Previous Failed Attempts
The speech in question outlines Hinman’s view that Bitcoin and Ether should not be considered securities, and has faced previous attempts by the SEC to seal it. In 2022, Judge Sarah Netburn – who presided over the case at the time – denied the SEC’s request three times. According to Judge Netburn, these requests were conflicting and not in the best interests of the law.
“The SEC is adopting its litigation to further its desired goal, and not out of a faithful allegiance to the law.”
The SEC initially attempted to prevent Hinman’s speech from being used by arguing that it reflected his personal opinion and not that of the securities regulator. After this approach was denied, the SEC claimed that the speech was related to Hinman’s internal duties and thus should be shielded from the public. However, this request was also turned down.
Documents Should Be Public
Following these failed attempts, the SEC filed another request to shield the documents, which Judge Torres denied. Torres stated that the documents should be accessible according to the common law principle of public access to judicial documents alone, regardless of whether or not they are admissible in court.
“Documents are considered ‘judicial documents’ if they are ‘relevant to the performance of the judicial function and useful in the judicial process. The relevance of a specific document does not depend on which way the court ultimately rules or whether the document in fact influences the court’s decision. Rather, what is important is whether a document ‘would reasonably have the tendency to influence a district court’s ruling on a motion.’”
Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse praised Judge Torres for her commitment to transparency. He stated that the unredacted documents would be released to the public as soon as Ripple’s lawyers were allowed to do so.
Although this is a win for transparency, it’s important to note that the case is ongoing and has been dragging on for years.