According to a report by the Charlotte Observer, the North Carolina Court of Appeals decided to uphold a lower judge’s decision to unseal the divorce records from the Chairman and CEO of NASCAR. The case was an especially interesting one and the details have now begun to emerge.
Lawyers for the NASCAR CEO Brian France spent years arguing that the documents should be kept confidential. The papers concern the 2008 divorce between Brian and his then wife, Megan France. The two have a colorful history given that they have been married and divorced twice now.
The Court ruled last year that the public’s right to view public court proceedings outweighed France’s interest in keeping the records private. Then Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Jena Culler reversed an earlier decision by another judge, deciding to unseal the records. Brian France appealed yet again, which meant the decision would be stayed until the Court of Appeals had an opportunity to hear the case again.
France’s attorneys argued before the Court of Appeals that allowing Judge Culler to overturn the order of another judge with an equal rank would result in “judicial anarchy.” The panel with the Court of Appeals was unmoved. Instead, they held that Judge Culler’s decision to unseal the divorce was valid. Given that the three-judge panel was unanimous there is no automatic right to appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Though records have not yet been released, statements made in court by attorneys on both sides reveal that there are plenty of juicy details in the paperwork. The two are involved in a dispute over whether Megan violated a confidentiality agreement signed during their most recent divorce.
The issue is unusual given that North Carolina law typically treats divorces as open records available for public consumption. All records of a divorce, including hearings, can be revealed in ordinary circumstances. However, there are provisions of state law that allow high-profile divorces or custody disputes to be sealed at the discretion of a judge.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce in Charlotte, it is best to contact experienced family law attorneys who practice in Charlotte, North Carolina like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC who can help guide you through the confusing process.
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