Doe v. Corp. of Presiding BishopAnnotate this Case
In opposing petitions for writs of mandamus, both challenged a trial court order that allowed a release to the press and public over one thousand redacted versions of "ineligible volunteer" files that belonged to Defendant Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The petitions arose from a tort action brought against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the BSA by six former scouts who alleged sexual abuse by their scout leaders. The files in question contained information regarding child sexual abuse complaints against BSA volunteers from 1965 to 1985. The trial court had admitted the files, and BSA's actions in response to those complaints, into evidence in the jury trial. Following the verdict, plaintiffs moved to vacate the protective order so that they could release the ineligible volunteer files to the public. Six media entities had previously had moved to intervene and also asked the trial court to release the trial exhibits, including the 1,247 ineligible volunteer files, for immediate public access. The trial court vacated the protective order and ordered the redaction of the names of others who reported the alleged abuse. The trial court concluded that Article I, section 10, required the release of the ineligible volunteer files, reasoning that Article I, section 10, encompassed "the right of the public and the press to know what evidence is presented in Court proceedings and is available for consideration by the jury in reaching its verdict." In regard to the mandamus petition of the BSA, the Supreme Court disagreed with the trial court's reasoning in deciding that Article I, section 10, required the court to dissolve its protective order concerning the lists of names of alleged child sexual abuse victims and reporters of suspected child sexual abuse. The Court concluded the trial court reasonably exercised its discretion in all the circumstances. Thus, there was no basis to grant relief in mandamus to the BSA. In regard to the mandamus petition of plaintiffs and intervenors, the Court concluded that the open courts provision in Article I, section 10, did not require the trial court, at the end of a trial, to order the release of exhibits that were subject to an earlier protective order requiring that the parties maintain their confidentially at the close of trial. "The court had discretion to order, on good cause shown, the release of those documents subject to the redaction of names set out in the exhibits to protect victims of child sexual abuse and reporters of child sexual abuse from embarrassment, retaliation, or other harm." The court in this case properly exercised that authority. Additionally, the court did not violate Article I, section 10, by staying the effectiveness of its disclosure order pending appellate review.