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Posted at 03:55 PM ET, 06/26/2012

Reese Witherspoon and her dad’s conservatorship case: Should the details remain sealed?


Witherspoon: Conservatorship case dismissed and for now, under seal. (MARIO ANZUONI - REUTERS)

A Tennessee judge has given Reese Witherspoon and her relatives some assistance in their effort to keep family matters private.

According to the Nashville Tennessean, Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy dismissed on Monday Witherspoon’s attempt to seek a conservatorship for her father, John Witherspoon. The judge also ordered that the court records in the matter be sealed, thereby preventing members of the media from getting their hands on the documents and sharing them on a place like, say, the Internet.

The “Legally Blonde” star petitioned in May to have her father placed under a conservatorship after her dad wed another woman while still married to Witherspoon’s mother, Betty Witherspoon. The former nurse and retired university professor, who has been married to John Witherspoon, an otolaryngologist, for 42 years but separated from him in 1996, also sued her husband and attempted to seek an annulment of the second marriage, arguing that health issues such as depression and possible dementia had prevented her husband from thinking clearly.

The Tennessean reports that all parties involved, including Witherspoon and both of her parents, have agreed the conservatorship is no longer necessary. But attorneys for two Tennessee-based media organizations — both the Tennessean and TV station WSMV — may still appeal the judge’s decision to seal the case.

The two news organizations’ argument here is that court proceedings such as this one are typically a matter of public record and should stay that way unless there is a compelling reason to keep them under lock and key. Judge Kennedy and Witherspoon’s attorney, however, said during Monday’s hearing that the only reason to open the Witherspoon case to the public would be to satisfy media voyeurism.

“Should the First Amendment . . . be used as a battering ram to embarrass and humiliate, or to cause harm and discomfort to a private citizen when no public good will come of it?” Kennedy reportedly asked.

As regular Celebritologists know, a lot of people in the legal profession read this blog. Do you attorneys, as well as those of you who have never taken the bar in any state, agree with the decision to keep the Witherspoon conservatorship case sealed? Or do you side with the lawyers who believe that there is not enough justification to shield the public from the details? Share your thoughts, as well as the thoughts you believe Elle Woods would have on this matter, by posting a comment.

By  |  03:55 PM ET, 06/26/2012

Categories:  Celebrities | Tags:  Reese Witherspoon

 
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