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Judge refuses to close court

Judge Jessie Walsh rejected a request to close her courtroom for an April 18 hearing involving another judge’s girlfriend.

Attorney David J. Winterton, who is representing Tawanna K. Crabb, a girlfriend of District Court Judge Donald Mosley, requested last month that Walsh prohibit the Las Vegas Review-Journal or any other media from attending the hearing.

Walsh denied Winterton’s request last month, but the judge’s order wasn’t entered into the official record until late last week.

Crabb in March 2002 sued her mortgage company and others after she lost her home to foreclosure in late 2001. The case became newsworthy in recent weeks because a case document alleged Mosley hatched a scheme to help her avoid foreclosure by arranging for false employment records.

As it does on many cases, the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month requested permission from Walsh to photograph courtroom proceedings.

Winterton’s formal objection with the court argues that the media and the public must not be allowed to “interfere” with the conclusion of the case in open court.

Winterton explains that Crabb and the only remaining defendant in the case, the mortgage trustee, Nevada Mortgage Assistance Co., had reached a confidential settlement and that the amount would no longer be a secret if the media were present for the final arguments and those terms were mentioned in arguments.

Walsh’s decision to grant media access comes at a time when state lawmakers are considering a proposal that would limit judges’ authority to seal civil cases from public view, and as the state Supreme Court has begun forming a committee to examine problems associated with the sealing of court records and public access to court records.

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