Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney's Testimony in Stemberg Divorce Unsealed

Well, folks looking for a big October surprise from our state's family court may be disappointed.

This morning, according to the Boston Globe, the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court ruled that the Romney testimony in the Stemberg divorce will be unsealed.  Now it is up to the Boston Globe - which brought the litigation to report on the upcoming election - to examine the record of that testimony and tell us what, if anything, it reveals.  The confidentiality agreement between the parties to the divorce, which the former Mrs. Stemberg's attorney Gloria Allred tried to lift so she could talk about Romney's testimony, remains in place.   Allred and her client were trying to piggyback on the Globe's initial request, which included a lifting of the gag order as well as the unsealing of the testimony, but then the Globe dropped its request to remove the gag order when it was clear the testimony would be unsealed.

Gloria Allred and the former Mrs. Stemberg, who actually supplied the documents themselves as the court no longer had the two-decades-old transcripts, accused the Boston Globe of a "double cross" and will now have to petition separately for the lifting of that gag order.

There's likely no big story here, as today Mr. Stemberg rescinded his objection to the unsealing of the testimony (Romney had already stated no objection to the unsealing yesterday, but he was probably doing something of a piggyback of his own on Stemberg's objection at the time).  As this morning's proceedings, and the rescinding of the objection, occurred after Stemberg and Romney (and Staples) had been given time to review the testimony, it appears that Stemberg and his buddy Romney now see nothing in that testimony worth the political cost of continuing to object.  Furthermore, Gloria Allred herself suggested (see below), that her client needs to be allowed to speak in order to put the testimony into "context" or otherwise the testimony will not be meaningful to the public.

And to that I say, calling to mind a fine legal phrase: res ipsa loquitur...not!
The Globe originally moved to amend the confidentiality agreement to allow parties in the case to speak publicly about Romney’s testimony but dropped the request on Thursday, when Stemberg — who had opposed the Globe’s request to unseal the testimony — rescinded his objection.
Allred argued vigorously for Sullivan Stemberg’s right to address Romney’s testimony publicly, saying Sullivan Stemberg was being denied her First Amendment Right. 
“Out of context, [the testimony] has no meaning for the public,” Allred said. “She can put it in context.”The court ruled that because the Globe was no longer petitioning to modify the confidentiality order, and was satisfied by the release of Romney’s testimony, that Sullivan Stemberg would have to bring a separate motion to amend the order. 
Allred indicated that she would do so and after the hearing accused the Globe of a “double cross” because the paper stopped its push to amend the confidentiality order.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

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