Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
State high court orders divorce file open06/28/1994
RHODE ISLAND -- The divorce file of a man convicted of running a $42 million gambling ring must be opened to the public, the Rhode Island Supreme Court in Providence ruled in mid-June.
In July 1993, Gaythorne "Poochie" Angell and others were charged with running gambling operations from nightclub.
A month before Angell was indicted, the Providence Journal-Bulletin sought access to his 1992 divorce file in family court. That prompted Angell and his ex-wife, Carol, to request that the family court judge seal the file. That request was granted in July 1993.
That decision was overturned in August by Family Court Chief Justice Jeremiah Jeremiah.
The Angells appealed to the superior court in September, which sent the case back to the family court. Once again Jeremiah ruled that the Angells failed to show "good cause" as to why the records should not be opened. They then appealed to the state supreme court, arguing that the divorce file contained financial information which would have been compromising to his defense in the criminal case. The newspaper argued that there was no reason to keep the records sealed.
The high court ruled in mid-June, that because the financial information was submitted voluntarily, it is not protected by the Fifth Amendment privilege against self- incrimination.
The Associated Press reported, however, that the divorce file cannot be located by either the family or the court.
(The Providence Journal Bulletin v. Clerk of the Family Court; Media Counsel: Joseph Cavanagh, Providence)