France's Dirty Laundry

dpkimmel2001

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Nov 6, 2008
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The Charlotte Observer asks court to unseal France records.....

The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday asked that the secret court records in the case of NASCAR Chairman Brian France and his ex-wife wife, Megan, be unsealed.

The newspaper also has asked that court hearings in the case be kept open to the public.

All the records in the case, including the initial complaint, have been sealed by order of then-Mecklenburg District Judge Todd Owens. Even the judge's order keeping the documents secret is under seal. The broad sealings provide an unusual level of secrecy beyond what is typically provided.

The case apparently involves domestic issues and a contract dispute.

Brian France's lawyers have asked Mecklenburg District Judge Jena Culler to close the courtroom to the public as the case proceeds.

Culler had already considered a request to close the courtroom last month, but ruled that the proceedings should remain open. But Brian France's attorneys asked her to reconsider, noting the Observer has shown interest in the case, which they feared would make it a "public spectacle."

In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for the Observer, and its news partner WCNC-TV, argued that the public has a constitutional right of access to the judicial proceedings and to the records.

The N.C. Constitution provides that "all courts shall be open," and the N.C. Supreme Court has recognized the public's presumptive right of access to court records, the newspaper's motion says.

"France - the CEO and Chairman of NASCAR since 2003 and a well-known national public figure - apparently contends the judicial process should be closed and made confidential, despite having chosen this public forum in which to litigate his disputes," the Observer motion says.

Brian France, 47, took over the NASCAR chairman's role from his father, Bill France Jr., in 2003. His father and grandfather, Bill France Sr., were recently named to the first class of Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Brian France filed the complaint in family court against his ex-wife last year, a few months after the couple divorced in Florida. The case, according to a court computer code, involves what's called "specific performance," where one litigant seeks a court order to require the other to honor the terms of a contract.

During a hearing last week, Brian France's lawyers argued that a confidentiality agreement is at the heart of the case between their client and his ex-wife and that it shouldn't be breached in open court hearings.

"Mr. France paid a fair amount of money to make sure that didn't happen," attorney Kary Watson told the judge.

"Publicizing the information ... would cause huge adverse effects for Mr. France."

The Observer's lawyers, Ray Owens and Chris Lam, challenged Brian France's reasoning for sealing the documents and closing the courtroom.

"While private parties may contract with each other for confidentiality...," the newspaper's lawyers argued, "that bargained for private right falls well short of the threshold to overcome the public's constitutional right of access.

"Our courts are the final venues where a civilized society must litigate and remedy on a daily basis the most difficult and often personal issues. Few litigants desire the necessary airing of the personal and often sensitive details of their legal dispute."

Observer asks court to unseal France records
 

dpkimmel2001

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Nov 6, 2008
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There is no reason to open this to the public, just as there was no reason to release all of Dale Earnhardt's crash photos and documentation.

I totally agree with you if you're referring to the autopsy photos that the Orlando Sentinel fought so hard to have released. As far as the release of the accident investigation went, that wasn't anything that was disputed in court. Those documents are all available at NASCAR.com and have been since their release.

As far as the release of the court documents in Frances case, the paper just wants to sensationalize anything that they could for sales. He's probably going to lose and the info will be published.
 

mghtx

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Oct 23, 2008
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I wonder how David Poole would feel about this. And I bet the Charlotte Observer just lost some major points in the relations dept.
 

dpkimmel2001

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Judge's orders Brian France case files opened :twitch:

A Mecklenburg judge on Friday ordered the unsealing of previously secret court files in NASCAR Chairman Brian France's legal battle with his ex-wife. Lawyers said District Judge Jena Culler's ruling also means courtroom hearings in the case will also be open to the public. France had argued against that on the grounds that it could cause disclosure of information protected by a confidentiality agreement. France's attorney indicated in court that he will immediately appeal to the N.C. Court of Appeals, and that he wants no information revealed before the higher court rules. The judge isn't expected to issue a written order before the middle of next week, and she said no information will be released before then. France had filed a civil case against his ex-wife, Megan France, last year, a few months after they divorced in Florida. The judge found that while the Frances have a private interest in keeping details of their dispute secret, there is no compelling public interest.
 

mghtx

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Oct 23, 2008
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Whether we like it or not, or if it's right or not, all this stuff will most likely come out eventually.
 

SubmarineMike

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Oct 14, 2008
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there is a difference between this and the Dale Sr photos. Here in Fl at the time there was no law either way on things like that so Theresa was able to hold off the Orlando Sentinel legally until Florida passed a law. In NC there is already a law established saying that if you go to court in NC it will be open period. That is the law in NC regardless of how much money France has. Now am I going to follow this case other than how it will affect nascar? No I'm not bt the law in NC is the law.