in a case involving Amelia Gould, a property owner and art collector
worth at least tens of millions of dollars who was incapacitated, acting
Nassau County Judge Gary Knobel said a party who is not related to
Gould did not show good cause for sealing the case records.
There are allegations in the case of "financial exploitation" and "Svengali-like manipulation" over Gould, Knobel said.
While he noted the allegations in In the Matter of the Appointment of Denise B. Caminite and Stephen W. Schlissel
are "merely" allegations and have not been discussed in a hearing, he
said sealing the record would have the effect of "burying secrets."
Knobel's ruling comes after a series of stories by Long Island-based newspaper Newsday revealed
Long Island judges had sealed records for at least 200 cases over a
10-year period by using boilerplate phrases in their orders rather than
tailoring them to the facts of the case.
Knobel signed his ruling
on Sept. 5. Gould died on Sept. 6, said Saltzman Chetkof & Rosenberg
partner Michael Chetkof, Gould's attorney.
Chetkof said that, for
guardianship practitioners, New York law regarding the sealing of
records from guardianship cases is complicated by the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and the fact that
matrimonial cases are sealed.
To reach his decision, Knobel had to
balance privacy concerns for an incapacitated person and the need for
transparency in the case, Chetkof said.
"It's a hard balance and I think he tried to explain that in his decision," Chetkof said.
Avallone of Avallone & Bellistri represented Denise Caminite, who
is not related to Gould and moved to seal the records in the case. He
did not respond to a message requesting comment.
Boeggeman, George & Corde partner Richard Corde represents Gould's surviving relatives.
New York, the disclosure of records in guardianship cases is governed
by Mental Hygiene Law §81.14, but jurisprudence regarding the statute
are relatively uncharted waters for New York courts.
been no appellate rulings in New York on whether guardianship records
should be sealed, Knobel said, and only a few published trial court
decisions on whether good cause has been shown to seal records.
his ruling, Knobel called on the state Legislature to re-evaluate
Mental Hygiene Law §81.14, which was enacted in 1993 to take into
account the impact of the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act on guardianship proceedings as well as the relative
ease of committing identity theft.
Full Article & Source:
Guardianship Case Files Presumed Open, NY Judge Finds