Limited information from a 1992 lawsuit involving former Gov. John G. Rowland may be unsealed and disclosed to the public as early as the end of this week, according to an official of Waterbury Superior Court where a hearing was held Tuesday morning.
The lawsuit, Deborah N. Rowland v. John Rowland, filed in family court by the former governor’s ex-wife, was among 18 sealed civil and family cases in the Waterbury district up for review during the hearing under a reform effort by the judiciary to eliminate secret court cases and unnecessarily sealed court documents. As in all Level 2 sealed files under the state’s now defunct three-tier system for shielding information from public view, the only public information available in the Rowland case is the party names and docket number.
Divorce, child custody, paternity disputes and restraining orders for relief from domestic abuse make up most of the cases filed in family court.
Waterbury Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati is considering only whether to release the docket sheets in the cases, the motions to seal the files and the orders that sealed them and heard objections to the disclosures during the half-hour hearing. No objections were filed in the Rowland case.
After the public revelation in 2002 that the judiciary had been using a graduated three-tier system for sealing documents and files and that prominent officials, lawyers and judges were able to litigate their cases in private, the judiciary dumped the practice. In 2003 new rules required public hearings before documents or files could be sealed and Level 1 seals, where even party names and case numbers were hidden from the public, were banned altogether.
Eleven of 13 judicial districts statewide have completed hearings on the Level 2 cases.