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Tom Garrett seeks to prevent medical records from going public

The former Republican congressman and self-identified alcoholic who will likely represent Virginia’s 56th District in the House of Delegates after November appears to believe his wife is leaking incriminating and incendiary documents to the press.

In an ongoing custody battle between Tom Garrett and Flanna Sheridan amid the pair’s divorce, Sheridan’s counsel has requested Garrett’s medical records, including clinical notes from Garrett’s former therapist.

But Garrett’s counsel said it worries those records will ultimately end up in the hands of the media — specifically The Daily Progress.

His counsel, Christopher Smith, argued at a Wednesday hearing in Louisa County that efforts should be taken to keep portions of the “highly contentious” case out of public view, noting that a reporter with The Daily Progress was in the courtroom.

Smith pointed to two recent stories written by The Daily Progress which highlighted allegations that Garrett abused his wife.

Smith said in court he did not want Sheridan to be given a copy or be permitted to read Garrett’s medical records.

“I don’t want an iota of possibility of Ms. Sheridan taking medical records and handing them to the wonderful Daily Progress reporter,” Smith said.

Judge Melvin Hughes asked Smith if any of The Daily Progress stories included information that was not already in the court record. Sheridan’s counsel, Jason Seiden, shook his head.

Garrett’s counsel responded to the question by noting that the most recent Daily Progress story cited unnamed sources.

The court filings cited in previous reporting are public record, viewed by The Daily Progress in the clerk’s office of the Louisa County Circuit Court. Multiple sources familiar with the allegations came forward after excerpts from those court filings were published in The Daily Progress. Those sources were vetted, and their identities were withheld to protect them from retaliation.

Sheridan has not spoken with The Daily Progress, nor has she provided The Daily Progress with any documents.

Seiden told the judge that Sheridan “unequivocally denies” ever disclosing confidential information.

“I am 100% sure that there is nothing in those articles that isn’t in the court record,” Seiden said.

Smith acknowledged that the medical records are relevant to the custody case, but expressed concern that if the records were produced, Sheridan would be able to view them.

“I don’t want records from my client to end up in the next Daily Progress story,” he said. “That’s not in the best interest of the child.”

Smith expressed concern that the child’s friends may one day find information about her father online. He pointed to the Virginia Political Newsletter, which recently published a photo Garrett took of himself with a gun to his forehead. The newsletter also included links to court filings that Smith said included private information, such as addresses.

Wednesday was not Garrett’s first attempt to keep records out of public view. On Aug. 16, his counsel filed a motion for sequestration of record.

In it, Smith’s team wrote that The Daily Progress had recently published two “extensive” front page stories that “referenced various allegations against husband and referred to various court documents.”

Garrett’s counsel wrote that although he had filed a motion for a gag order and that the court imposed restrictions on the parties not to discuss the case, those restrictions “do not prevent third parties from viewing and accessing” court files.

To prevent third-party access, Garrett’s counsel asked that the court sequester and seal “the entire Circuit Court file.”

His counsel mentioned this motion near the end of Wednesday’s hearing, but the judge responded that the motion had not yet matured and would have to be discussed at a later hearing.

As for Garrett’s medical records, Hughes ordered that they only be released to Sheridan’s counsel. Anything her attorneys find in the records that they find relevant to the case must be presented to the court first, which will make a determination whether it can be entered into the public record.

Neither Garrett nor Sheridan’s counsel could be reached for comment.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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