NY Times Really Wants Tapes from Closed-Door Hearing in Texas Rangers' Chapter 11 Case

On July 9

Your Texas Rangers acquired Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners. Which was great. Very exciting. But, just maybe, something just as interesting was taking place in the chambers of Judge Michael Lynn, the Fort Worth bankruptcy judge who, on July 9, gathered behind closed doors several of the participants in the Rangers' Chapter 11 case that eventually ended up going in Chuck Greenberg's favor.

On the still-so-very-active Texas Rangers Baseball Partners Info Site are a handful of filings made this week by The New York Times, which is attempting to get its hands on a tape of the July 9 meeting in the judge's chambers. According to a motion filed Tuesday:

On July 9, 2010, the Court summoned various counsel of record in this bankruptcy matter for a hearing in the Court's chambers. The hearing was recorded by the Court's reporter on one or more audio tapes (the "July 9th Tapes"), but the Court did not seal them. There was, at that time, and remains, no compelling interest to do so.

But when The Times tried to get the tapes between July 20 and August 2, the paper was told: Sorry, but you're only getting a partial audio transcript. On August 4, The Times asked again: Can we have the tapes? This time, no response.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, Lynn sealed the records on August 2, insisting those tapes were for all the parties' convenience and "only intended for use on appeal of this case in other courts."

The Times says it was, however, told this much upon being denied access: "The only indicia given to the requester by the Court's reporter for refusal to grant access was that the contents could be embarrassing. Embarrassment does not suffice to prohibit access to a proceeding." On Wednesday, the paper filed several more motions, all of which said the judge was behaving unconstitutionally and that, yet again, "The New York Times respectfully requests that the Court reconsider its decision to seal all audio-taped, in-chambers hearings in the Texas Rangers bankruptcy."

A hearing has been set for 1:30 p.m. November 15 in Lynn's courtroom.

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