Many court cases are open to the public, including the media. However, some cases are closed in order to protect the victims in the case. For example, some cases in which parents are accused of child abuse, including incest, may be closed to protect the identity of the victims. In either case, court documents may be sealed, although they are frequently available to the public.
Public records encompass almost any type of legal document. However, some parts of the document may be blotted out, such as the names of victims or witnesses. This is done to protect these individuals from harassment or threats.
Court documents may also be sealed if they could reveal the names or whereabouts of undercover officers that were involved in the case. This is especially true when undercover officers had testified directly in the case and remain undercover.