In a ruling hailed as a First Amendment landmark, the California Supreme Court has denied billionaire Ron Burkle’s bid to keep secret his divorce records. Kelli L. Sager, a lawyer who represented the media in the case, said the ruling would help keep courtroom records, as well as courtroom doors, open to public scrutiny. “Usually the spouse with the least power may wind up not getting a fair shake. You’ve got to have this stuff open so everybody can see what’s going on,” Sager told the LA Times. Burkle was recruited by the Newspaper Guild union to help it buy the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Monterey Herald and other Knight Ridder newspapers. [AP] [Sacramento Bee Editorial: A victory for open courts]
Legislative update:While Burkle’s lawyers were fighting in the courts to keep his records secret, his lobbyists were trying to get a bill through the legislature to do much the same thing. However, according to the CNPA Legislative Bulletin and the Sacramento Bee, bill (SB 1015) has been placed in the “inactive file” because of concerns raised by female lawmakers and women’s advocacy groups.