Governor's Divorce Poses Questions

Vicki Anderson has been divorced for ten years now. She says she and her ex get along fine. But despite that she still thinks the information surrounding her divorce is private, and she believes the same should apply to Governor Gibbons and the first lady.

"I think as long as he's the governor, he needs to worry about the state. Not about personal relationships. His job is running the state of Nevada. I think his relationship is private with his wife."

In general divorce cases are open to the public here in Washoe County's family court unless one side makes the request to close that file. They can in addition close the proceedings involving that divorce as well. That's exactly what the governor has done. But his wife's attorney says she doesn't agree, and that motion in effect has quashed her first amendment right to speak. But some observers say there's another issue here that goes beyond a couple seeking a divorce.

Professor Warren Lerude from Reynolds School of Journalism is an expert in First Amendment Law.

" A lot of people are uncomfortable with prying into people's divorces. But in this case the governor keeps making so much news on this it is news. Public officials are new, private individuals are not. That's why you have a story here."

Lerude and others say the public's right to know what goes on in a court proceeding, especially where a public figure is involved needs to be closely examined in this case. Issues like impartiality, fairness, proper procedure, judicial conduct can all be witnessed in an open court by the public, but in this case, at least for now, that open forum is shut behind closed doors


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