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Judge finds automatic sealing of divorce records unconstitutional

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The judge overseeing the high-profile divorce of Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons ruled unconstitutional a statute that automatically sealed divorce cases…

The judge overseeing the high-profile divorce of Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons ruled unconstitutional a statute that automatically sealed divorce cases on the request of either party, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

The statute, NRS 125.110, provides that nearly all divorce documents will be sealed “upon the written request of either party to the action.” Gov. Gibbons invoked the rule in an attempt to seal his divorce records, but first lady Dawn Gibbons opposed the request.

District Judge Frances Doherty of Reno found the statute “unduly restrictive in that it allows automatic sealing of a broad range of the court file, upon the unilateral request of one of the parties, without allowing for judicial discretion to determine whether there is a compelling basis to seal the specified court records in a narrowly tailored manner,” the Sun reports.

The district court judge’s ruling will not bind other Nevada courts. But other states have struck down statutes that allowed divorce records to be sealed without showing a compelling interest in secrecy.