(CN) – The 7th Circuit vacated a court order that would have forced Chicago to reveal the names of police officers accused of abusing civilians.
Independent journalist Jamie Kalven asked to intervene in a now-settled lawsuit against Chicago and several members of its police department. Discovery records contained “voluminous material” on the citizen complaints against the city’s officers, according to the ruling.
But those records were sealed, and the parties eventually settled the case.
Shortly before U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow dismissed the case, Kalven asked to intervene to challenge the protective order. He claimed there was no “good cause” to keep the citizen complaints secret. He was joined on appeal by 28 Chicago aldermen, who also demanded access to the police records.
Judge Lefkow dismissed the case with prejudice, but said she would leave it “open” for Kalven’s petition. She later lifted the protective order and allowed Kalven to intervene.
On Monday, the Chicago-based appellate panel vacated Lefkow’s order, saying the journalist’s petition should have been dismissed for lack of standing.
Kalven lacks standing, the court explained, because the underlying lawsuit was settled “at the time the court acted on Kalven’s petition.”
“With no live controversy ongoing, Kalven was required to demonstrate his standing to intervene and resuscitate the case” – something he failed to do, according to Judge Sykes.
“In short, Kalven has no injury to a legally protected interest and therefore has no standing to support intervention,” Sykes wrote. “Neither do the aldermen; in all material respects, they are in the same position as Kalven.”