The Fulton County Daily Report has today reported that a judge has unsealed most of the files in the divorce case of House Speaker Glenn Richardson and his ex-wife, Susan.

The day the divorce case was filed in February, Paulding Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge James R. Osborne, who once practiced law with Glenn Richardson, sealed the file. Osborne wrote in his sealing order that "the harm otherwise resulting to the interest of the parties and their children "outweighs any public interest" in seeing the records.

However, it appears that the documents that have been unsealed reveal few details about the Richardsons’ personal finances and offer no details about the factors that led to the divorce.

Judge Osborne recused from efforts to unseal the case, and Rome Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Walter J. Matthews was assigned to handle the matter.

Judge Matthews on July 16 issued an order to unseal the complaint, final judgment and decree and amended judgment and decree in Richardson’s divorce case, writing that after reviewing the relevant case law, "it is obvious to the Court that certain portions of this file must be open and available to the public."

"Public confidence in any Court’s proper application of statutory Child Support guidelines to all parties [sic] income would necessitate public access to such basic data in virtually any case," Matthews added.

"Because of his desire to protect his children, the speaker has not and will not comment on matters involving his personal life,” said Clelia Davis, a spokeswoman for Richardson. “He has put this difficult chapter of life behind him and remains focused on protecting our Republican majority so we can continue the progress we have made while working to ensure John McCain is our nation’s next president."

Atlanta family law attorney John C. Mayoue of Warner, Mayoue, Bates & Nolen said Osborne’s mistake was sealing the entire Richardson divorce case and that it is extraordinarily unusual that a divorce file in its entirely would be sealed.

However, Mayoue said he has found judges inclined to seal some portions of a divorce file related to the parties’ personal finances, such as affidavits and schedules.

"But that’s much different from what happened in the Richardson case, where the judge said the entire file is sealed forever, period," Mayoue said.

In her complaint for divorce, Susan Richardson filed for divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, according to the complaint. No additional details were included about why she filed for divorce.

In an amended final judgment and decree, dated May 8, Osborne named Glenn Richardson as non-custodial parent and granted him visitation rights of 90 days per year.

The decree said that Glenn Richardson has an income of $16,907 per month, and Susan Richardson has an income of $1,000 per month. Osborne ordered Richardson to pay Susan Richardson $3,000 per month in child support. The couple has two minor children.

The case, in the Paulding Judicial Circuit, is Richardson v. Richardson, No. 08-cv-670. Glenn Richardson, a lawyer, represented himself and his ex-wife in the divorce.

Richardson, a Republican from Hiram, was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1996 and selected as House Speaker in 2005. He was the Paulding County attorney from 1989 to 2005.

SOURCE: Fulton County Daily Report