CAN SOMEBODY ELSE UNSEAL YOUR DIVORCE FILES AT THE COURT?
Normally, parties in a divorce action move to SEAL their divorce case from public scrutiny. In fact, it is one of the topics discussed in the book How to Divorce by our Editor in Chief, Marion TD Lewis. See the image of the book cover to your left.
In the case of Trump v Trump, the reverse situation is anticipated. On August 11, 2016, counsels for the New York Times and Gannett Co – parent company of USA Today, have filed a motion to VACATE SEALING in the Supreme Court New York County. It seems the motion pertains to 3 actions brought by Mr Trump’s first and former wife, and mother of his 3 adult children, Ivana Trump.
THE CASE NOs. and COUNSELS
The index numbers in question are 23416/1992, 6853/1990, and 72319/1990.
The counsels for the movants are David McCraw for the New York Times and Barbara Wall Esq for Garnett Inc.
In the case at issue, both the New York Times and USA want the court to unseal the divorce records on multiple grounds, the main one being that Mr Trump , the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 – and a litigious individual with a questionable reputation with women – should be fully open to public scrutiny as to his character and fitness for the office of the presidency. It is a matter of “public interests” or so the argument goes.
At the time of their divorce in 1991, the Trumps were newsworthy personalities though hardly as newsworthy as they are today. During a deposition, Mrs Trump alleged that her husband had once “raped her” – allegations he strenuously denies. This aspect of the case seems very key to the media outlets’ argument that there needs to be full transparency as a matter of public interest and that the public has a right to know if these and other events alleged by the former Mrs Trump are true.
LEGAL ARGUMENT OF THE MOVANT’S ATTORNEY
In his bombshell affirmation in support of the motion of the New York Times and Garnett Inc, New York attorney David McCraw delivers a near “nuclear” attack on the seal on the Trump case. He basically blows the lid off of the sealing, using incredibly thorough and persuasive legal arguments which can be found here in pdf format. The main thrust of his argument seems to be that while matrimonial actions in New York are presumptively kept sealed as a matter of law and principle, that under special circumstances the court is authorized to, and should unseal these records for the public interest.
What are those “special circumstances”? Well, that Mr Trump is campaigning to hold the highest elected office in the country and thus, voters have a right to be fully informed about the candidate. He juxtaposes Trump’s right to privacy with the public’s right to information.
He also makes additional arguments grounded in First Amendment jurisprudence. It is an absolutely devastating motion, withering for Mr Trump although it is left to be seen how his lawyers rebut this and how the judge rules. Mr McCraw points out, and I think smartly so, that there very well may not be any smoking guns in the Trump court files, but he nevertheless makes the point that the public does have the right to know for sure what is in those files in order to make an informed decision about their next president.
It is a fairly damning development for Trump and it is anybody’s guess how this will turn out for him.
The court date is set for August 22, 2016 at 09:30 in the morning. Stay tuned.
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