Media & Communications Law

Judge denies media request to unseal Trump's divorce records

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Donald Trump

Donald Trump. Photo by a katz /

A judge in New York has denied a media request to unseal records of Donald Trump’s 1990 divorce from Ivana Trump.

Judge Frank Nervo ruled on the request by the New York Times and the Gannett newspaper group in a decision released on Thursday, report Politico and

Nervo cited a confidentiality provision in the couple’s post-nuptial agreement, which was upheld in an appeal of the original divorce case. Though Donald Trump is running for office, Ivana Trump is not, and there is no ground to deprive her of her rights under the confidentiality provision, Nervo wrote.

New York law permits access to divorce records when a protected party waives the protection by raising the issue in litigation, Nervo said. That did not occur in the Trumps’ case.

Nervo said he was aware of the media’s crucial role in keeping the public informed during presidential elections, but the court “cannot aid them in carryout out this crucial role.”

“Were the court to make the confidential records available for journalistic, and thus public, scrutiny,” Nervo said, “it would impermissibly inject itself into the political process by making the value judgment of what information is useful in determining the present candidate’s, or any other candidate’s, fitness for office. The court’s role in the electoral process is strictly limited to determining whether a candidate complies with the election law. The court will not take an action that exceeds that limitation.”

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