Sunday, September 3, 2006

Newsworthy Court Record Sealed

The Seattle Times has another example of a newsworthy court record that was sealed at a party's request. In 1992 Stephanie Dorgan, a lawyer and nightclub owner, was sued by her business partners who alleged that she had not kept proper financial records and did not account for cash receipts. She settled the case in less than a month.

Dorgan's lawyer argued that the file should be sealed because she was an attorney and her reputation would be harmed if the allegations were to become known to others.

That argument didn't meet the legal standard for sealing a court case, but Dorgan benefited from a system in which judges and court commissioners in King County frequently overlooked the rules, often for attorneys, and improperly sealed hundreds of cases.
The Times argues that the allegations should be available, noting that they could have been relevant to the mayor (who appointed Dorgan to a task force about nightclub regulation), to the Liquor Control Board, and to WSBA. A judge unsealed the file on Aug. 5, at the request of the Times.
Of 420 civil suits sealed in King County Superior Court since 1990, judges and commissioners have sealed at least 58 cases where a fellow lawyer is a party, usually as a defendant. Leading firms, prominent lawyers, judges — all have had files about them hidden from public view.
Steve Miletich, Nightclub suit kept under wraps, Sept. 3, 2006. This article is the latest in the series Your Courts, Their Secrets.

Thanks to Mary Hotchkiss.

Filed in: , , ,

No comments: