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Judge unseals Mitt Romney testimony in divorce case

As the presidential election campaign draws to a close, Colorado readers might be excused if they are tired of hearing from the candidates. But some in Massachusetts wanted to hear more from Mitt Romney, although not as a candidate. A Boston newspaper and the ex-wife in a decades-old divorce case requested that the court unseal testimony given in the case years ago by the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate. Recently the court ruled that the records must be unsealed.

The divorce proceedings involved one of Romney's closest friends, the founder of the Staples office supply store chain. He and his wife went through bitterly contested divorce proceedings that began in 1987 and continued for more than ten years. In 1988 the ex-wife sought to overturn the couple's divorce settlement, arguing that the ex-husband had understated the value of his stock in Staples. Romney was called as a witness to talk about the value of the company. Bain Capital was an investor in Staples at an early stage, and Romney's testimony detailed the venture capital group's involvement with Staples.

The records had been sealed and a gag order was in place, meaning the parties were not allowed to talk about the proceedings. The Boston Globe sought to unseal the records, a request which was joined by the ex-wife's attorney. When no one, including Romney, objected to unsealing the records, the judge ordered them unsealed. The gag order is still in place, although the ex-wife's attorney is seeking to have that lifted as well.

One thing this case illustrates is just how complex the evidence can be in a high asset divorce case, especially when valuation of business assets is at issue. Romney's testimony in the case went on for three days and takes up 430 typed pages of transcript. In these types of cases having an attorney with a sophisticated knowledge of business asset valuation issues is a must.

Source: New York Times, "Judge Releases Romney Testimony in Surrogate's divorce," Sarah Wheaton, Oct. 25, 2012

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