Court victory for Ripple as judge denies SEC motion to seal Hinman docs

A motion from the United States securities regulator to seal the controversial Hinman Speech documents has been denied — a move that has been seen as a win for the Ripple and crypto community.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed the motion to seal the documents on Dec. 22, 2022, arguing that its mission outweighed the “public’s right” to access documents that have “no relevance” to the Court’s summary judgment decision, among other arguments.

However, as per the most recent order, Judge Analisa Torres for the U.S. District Court ruled that the documents are “judicial documents” subject to a strong presumption of public access. 

Excerpt from the ruling by Judge Torres. Source: U.S. District Court

“The Hinman Speech Documents “would reasonably have the tendency to influence [the Court’s] ruling on a motion,” she added. 

Judge Torres said the court has also rejected the SEC’s argument that sealing the documents is necessary to preserve “openness and candor” within the SEC, stating: 

“The Hinman Speech Documents are not protected by the deliberative process privilege because they do not relate to an agency position, decision or policy.”

While the court has ruled the Hinman Speech documents will be made public, it has granted the other two requests from the SEC that asked for the redaction of names and identifying information of SEC experts and XRP (XRP) investor declarants, as well as personal and financial information of the defendants. 

The court also denied certain motions to seal from Ripple, including references linking Ripple’s revenues with XRP sales and the amount of compensation offered to trading platforms, among others.

Related: Watchdog sues SEC over FOIA access to docs on potential crypto conflict of interest

The Hinman Speech documents refer to the speech given by former SEC Corporation Finance Division Director William Hinman at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in June 2018, where he reportedly stated that Ether (ETH) is not a security.

Ripple has considered the speech a key piece of evidence in its ongoing legal battle with the SEC, which alleges that sales of Ripple’s XRP violated U.S. securities laws. 

The price of XRP spiked on the news, jumping around 2.6%. It is currently trading at $0.43.

Magazine: Crypto regulation — Does SEC Chair Gary Gensler have the final say?

Update (May 16, 11:05 pm UTC): This article has been updated to include background information and further details from the May 16 court filing.