By SUMMER BALLENTINE, The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Associated Press has joined The Kansas City Star’s motion to get a sealed court record from former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ child custody case.
The Star and the AP argue that a decision to make the record off-limits to the public to protect the former Republican governor’s two young sons goes too far and denies voters important information about a recent candidate for public office.
The AP’s motion was filed Thursday and was accepted by the court clerk Tuesday.
Boone County Associate Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider last week made her ruling in the case private to protect the former couple’s sons from public scrutiny, according to a small portion of the ruling that was quoted in Texas records.
A lawyer for Sheena Greitens this week confirmed that the judge ruled that the case should be moved to Texas, where she is a public affairs professor at the University of Texas. Sheena Greitens, who requested the move, asked that Texas seal records in the ongoing case. Her attorney didn’t immediately respond to an AP request for comment over whether she wants the Missouri judge’s ruling to remain sealed.
No other information from the ruling has been publicly released.
Kansas City Star lawyer Bernie Rhodes argued that the judge should redact parts of the judgment related directly to the children but allow the rest to be made public.
“This is a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Rhodes told The Star. “If there’s something in there that is particularly unique to the children, that’s why Adobe PDF has a redaction feature.”
The case drew heightened attention during Eric Greitens’ failed bid this year to become the Republican nominee for retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat. Sheena Greitens said in a sworn affidavit that he was physically abusive, which he strongly denied.
Rhodes’s motion says that Eric and Sheena Greitens, as high-profile Missourians, have been given different treatment than other Missourians.
“An ordinary person doesn’t get their judgment sealed,” Rhodes said. “If I want to see how the property was split when my neighbor got divorced, I can go on to CaseNet or go down to the courthouse and I can learn that. Why are these two people, who proclaim themselves to be high profile public figures, entitled to a different standard? That just seems wrong in this country.”
The Star motion argues that voters whose decisions about whether to vote for Eric Greitens were based in part on the abuse allegations have a right to any information that the judgment might reveal about the issue.
Eric Greitens had argued that Sheena Greitens’ claims were part of a political attack engineered by those who wanted him to lose his race. Rhodes argues that the record The Star seeks might reveal whether Greitens’ legal team was able to back up his claim.
“It is irrelevant that these allegations may be ‘embarrassing,’” Rhodes wrote in the motion. “Much of what occurs in Missouri courts is the result of embarrassing behavior. What is important is the continued protection of the ‘paramount public interest in a free flow of information to the people’ concerning candidates for public office.”
Greitens resigned as governor four years ago following a sex scandal, two criminal charges that were eventually dropped and a legislative investigation that could have led to impeachment hearings against him. He has said those charges were politically motivated.