Show us the records

Judge Osborne has stepped aside in the Richardson divorce matter.

The judge overseeing a motion to unseal House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s divorce file has voluntarily stepped aside from the case.

Paulding County Superior Court Judge James Osborne said he disqualified himself from the case, which raised questions of whether Richardson got preferential treatment, because he “desires the full confidence of the public in the judicial process.” The judge noted that there had been no court motion seeking his recusal.

Osborne disqualified himself in an order signed Thursday. On Friday, Walter Matthews, chief judge of the Rome Judicial Circuit, was appointed to decide the motion filed by Rome ethics activist George Anderson to unseal the divorce file of Glenn and Susan Richardson.

I continue to believe it highly unusual for these types of records to be sealed.

One comment

  1. OleDirtyBarrister says:

    Osborne apparently granted an interview to the AJC about the time he recused himself. He remarked that he had never declined a request to seal a record in a domestic case. Of course, he has only been on the bench no more than 3 years and did not say if or how many motions to seal the record he had decided.

    Ga law requires a lot of financial disclosure with financial affidavits and child support worksheets. In fairness and just as a matter of common sense, those components of the records should be placed under seal as a matter of course. I believe that the chief circuit court judge could enter a standing general order to protect the interests of all domestic litigants in this manner. I’ve seen financial disclosures in cases involving punitives and in post judgment proceedings be placed under seal without the whole record being sealed. At bottom, there really is no good reason to seal the entire record, the financial records can be isolated and sealed to satisfy their private interest with the rest of the record remaining unsealed to meet the public interests.

    What will be interesting is to see the grounds specified by the former Mrs. R. for the divorce. In a divorce mutually agree upon in advance, the husband will typically have the wife set up to be the plaintiff, because they are typically more emotional about it and it works better than having her as the defendant. GA law sets forth specific statutory grounds for a divorce, and the “irretrievably broken” is the most common ground, and plaintiffs often cite that and add something to the effect that “there are other grounds but they are not stated herein in order to maintain family privacy.” That is fairly common codespeak for adultery as a grounds in lieu of explicitly saying it. In other instances, when a divorce is hostile, you will see the plaintiff alleging mental and physical cruelty and /or adultery.

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