News Article Details

Judge denies Ellison's petition to keep divorce file sealed and redact 'sensitive' information

Star Tribune - 10/17/2018

Oct. 17--Kim Ellison said Tuesday that she has been the one pushing to keep records of her divorce with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison private, while the Minnesota Court of Appeals denied the Ellisons' last-minute attempt to block the release of some information in the file.

Their divorce file is expected to be unsealed Wednesday, following a District Court order issued last week by a Hennepin County Family Court referee. The Ellisons had petitioned the state Court of Appeals on Monday to delay that order and keep their divorce file sealed until they are given a chance to redact "confidential information" from the documents it contains.

But Judge Renee Worke determined Tuesday they did not meet the requirements necessary to hold off on making the file public.

Kim Ellison convened a news conference Tuesday to tell reporters the divorce file contains information about her medical and mental health after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and struggled with depression.

Her ex-husband, who is the Democratic candidate for attorney general, is not the one who wants to keep the documents private, she said.

The Star Tribune and Alpha News, a right-leaning news website, pushed to unseal the divorce file following a domestic abuse allegation from Ellison's ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan. She said he tried to drag her off a bed during an argument in 2016. He denies the allegation and an investigation, commissioned by the DFL Party, could not substantiate the claim.

"There was never any abuse of any kind in our relationship. So what Alpha News and the Star Tribune are looking for does not exist," Kim Ellison said.

Divorce files are typically public, but courts will usually agree to seal them if both parties agree on it.

The Ellisons argued in their petition that they have not had a chance to protect "sensitive medical and financial information" before it becomes public. Moreover, they said, the referee is on vacation and unable to address their request to protect certain documents.

"If the Court of Appeals does not issue an immediate stay or writ of prohibition, Mr. and Ms. Ellison will be without a remedy to protect sensitive medical and financial information," the petition says.

A writ of prohibition is an extraordinary remedy used when a court is acting outside its authority or in an unauthorized manner, which the Ellisons did not demonstrate, the Star Tribune's response to the petition states.

In the response filed Tuesday, the newspaper argued the contents of the divorce file are of significant public interest and the court should not delay its unsealing.

"In any event, their concerns are over-wrought," the response states, as a court administrator has been tasked with reviewing the file and withholding certain information that is protected from disclosure, such as financial source documents.

Kim Ellison, who is also a public official serving on the Minneapolis school board, said she is not sure whether that would go far enough to protect her privacy.

"I know that public service requires sacrifice ... But there must be decency involved, there must be limits," she said.

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(c)2018 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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