Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Trial Ordered over Access to Judge's Divorce

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Trial Ordered over Access to Judge's Divorce

Article excerpt

A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER reporter trying to unseal a local judge's divorce file won a round last week when a California appellate court remanded the case for trial.

In overturning a Superior Court ruling against the reporter, the 1st District Court of Appeals said there is no legal precedent for sealing the entire transcript of a divorce proceeding.

Acting as his own attorney, Mark Heimann, a freelance writer for the Anderson Valley Advertiser in rural Mendocino County, is attempting to prove that Municipal Judge Vincent T. Lechowick, 49, has been held in contempt for failure to pay child support. Lechowick contends the file is personal, and disclosure would embarrass his two teenage sons.

He also accuses Heimann and the Advertiser of waging a vendetta against him because Lechowick sentenced publisher Bruce Anderson to jail for 60 days in 1984 for slugging the superintendent of schools at a board meeting, and sent Heimann into a judicial diversion program for violating a restraining order protecting his girl friend. …

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