Court • Newspaper argues that files' blanket closure is against state code.
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The Salt Lake Tribune has asked a judge to reconsider his decision to close court records of a $60 million lawsuit filed by Nu Skin Enterprises founder Sandra Tillotson against her ex-husband, whom she accuses of defamation and extortion.
The day after Tillotson's lawsuit was filed in May, 3rd District Judge L.A. Dever agreed to classify records in the case as private. Tillotson's attorneys argued that leaving the records public would "allow further dissemination of the defamatory statements" the Dutch model and actor Diederik Van Nederveen Meerkerk is accused of making against Tillotson, his ex-wife.
In her lawsuit, Tillotson claims Van Nederveen Meerkerk is publishing a book, Trophy Husband, that defames her, and that he published sections of the book on a website and caused her ouster from the board of Provo-based Nu Skin, one of Utah's largest publicly traded companies. Shortly before Tillotson filed her lawsuit, the price of Nu Skin's shares dropped sharply.
Since Dever agreed to make the court records private, both sides have filed several documents that "could shed light on issues of substantial public importance and interest, including the motivations for Tillotson's departure ... and the cause for the drop in Nu Skin's share price," the Tribune claims in a motion filed Tuesday.
In Tuesday's motion, The Tribune asks Dever for access to the records of the case; if full public access isn't granted, The Tribune asks that its attorneys be given a chance to review the documents in order to make "fully informed arguments" as to whether each individual document should be made public.
The Tribune argues that state code requires judges to evaluate and classify records individually a process that was bypassed when Dever issued a blanket closure order the day after the case was filed.