Judge Criticized For Sealing Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's Divorce File
Attorneys and others had criticized Pottawatomie County Associate District Judge John Gardner after he sealed the musicians' entire divorce file, The Oklahoman newspaper reported. Gardner, who's retiring this week, made public a protective order on Tuesday explaining his July 6 decision.
He said allowing the case to be public would have greatly compromised the personal and financial privacy of both parties, noting that matters in the case would have garnered "significant publicity" that most others wouldn't.
"These parties are entertainers and are not guardians of the public trust," Gardner said. "Because the matters contained in this case are likely to be of significant media interest, but are private in nature and not matters which are of a legitimate public interest, there is a compelling privacy interest which outweighs the public's interest in the record."
Former state Rep. Aaron Stiles contends that Gardner broke a law by keeping the entire divorce petition and divorce decree under seal. Stiles, who wrote the 2014 law on the sealing of court records, said it requires judges to narrowly tailor secrecy orders "so that only the portions of the record subject to confidentiality are sealed and the remainder of the record is kept open."
But the new filing on Tuesday does fulfill one key requirement of the law, which said a protective order in sealing records "shall be public."
Shelton and Lambert, who shared a home together outside Tishomingo, announced last week that they were divorcing after four years of marriage.