WASHINGTON—An appeals court has turned down a reporter's effort to see an independent consultant's reports for American International Group, Inc.

A district court had granted the request from Sue Reisinger, a reporter for Corporate Counsel and American Lawyer magazines. The district court concluded the reports were judicial records, to which Reisinger had a common law right of access.

But a three-judge appeals court panel reversed the ruling Friday.

AIG hired the consultant as part of a court-approved consent decree with the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle 2004 allegations of securities violations by the giant insurer.

The appellate judges, all appointed by Republican presidents, concluded the reports were not judicial records subject to release because the lower court in handling the settlement made no decisions about or based on them.