Nevada Judge Rules Foreclosure Civil Mediation Records Sealed
In Carson City Nevada, a district judge ruled that records regarding civil mediation on foreclosures are to be kept sealed from the public. According to Distric Judge Todd Russell, Nevada's public records laws do not apply to these records. He further says that Nevada's court is its own branch of the government and “has the inherent authority to manage its own records and dictate their disclosure.”
Opposition to Foreclosure Mediation Services' Privacy
Standing at the forefront of the opposition to keeping these records confidential is a group called Civil Rights for Seniors. They have filed litigation against Nevada's courts for this confidentiality, as they want to be able to evaluate the success of Nevada's foreclosure mediation system since its inception.
Further, the mediation attorney for the seniors group, Philip Olsen, comments that it is ironic that as the court system was set up to protect the rights of the public, that they would refuse the right for the public to know what they are doing. Essentially, the seniors' group wants to make sure that the program and its administrator are following the law, and if they are effectively working.
Russell Declares Privacy in Mediation is Paramount
On the flip side of the issue, Judge Russell affirms that this so-called “cloak of secrecy” is geared toward protecting the privacy of the citizens of Nevada. According to him, “A homeowner's right to privacy in the foreclosure mediation program exists until a petition for judicial review is filed in the district court.” He also says that, “There is a strong and compelling need to protect the privacy expectations of parties within the mediation process.”
Olsen contests this defense, saying that once foreclosure enters the picture, the issue becomes public record anyway.
Of course, it is all too common for the commencement of a civil mediation to become part of the public record—Kim Kardashian's divorce mediation was all over the news before the meetings commenced. So was Mel Gibson's child custody mediation. Does this mean, however, that the actual proceedings or even the agreement of a mediation should be public?