Patrick Danner and Dan Christensen of The Miami Herald investigated more than 100 cases kept hidden on a secret docket in Broward since 2001 and found that three Broward Circuit Court judges failed to follow the law by "sealing" cases — closing off all the information in them — without giving public notice or showing sufficient reason. "The practices of sealing cases without notice and of putting cases on a secret docket go against the basic tenet that courts funded by the public must be open to the public. " Broward judges — Victor Tobin, Ronald Rothschild and Robert Carney — did not comply with a Florida law that requires judges to issue public notice of requests to seal, so they are open to challenge. In the first case, four companies were sued alleging negligence in maintenance of the aircraft.
Tobin sealed the case in 2004 without explanation at the request of an attorney for defendants. Among other things, the companies argued secrecy was needed because other lawsuits arising from the crash were then being litigated.