Gov. Jim Gibbons won a court ruling Monday sealing files in his divorce case and ordering a closed-door trial.
While the Nevada Supreme Court ruled in December that most civil case records must be open, Carson City District Judge Bill Maddox cited a state law that allows for the automatic sealing of divorce cases at the request of either spouse.
The 63-year-old governor had asked that the records be sealed Friday, when he filed for divorce from Dawn Gibbons, his wife of nearly 22 years, and requested an order ousting her from the governor's mansion.
Some matters, including the divorce complaint and the eventual judgment, will be public. But evidence will be sealed, and during the trial nobody other than the Gibbonses, family members, lawyers and witnesses can be present, the judge wrote.
Cal Dunlap, Dawn Gibbons' attorney, said his 54-year-old client would prefer that the divorce files and trial be open, "like any other legal proceeding."
"Obviously, anybody who is involved in these things would rather not have them be public," Dunlap said. "But what she's recognizing is that there's a legitimate public interest in the conduct and activities of the governor and the first lady."
The governor's complaint says Dawn Gibbons should pay his attorney fees. Dunlap has said he will "vehemently" oppose that request.
Trouble in Carson City
The governor's divorce complaint listed incompatibility as grounds for the split, which is the latest development in a series of difficulties for Gibbons — including a corruption investigation by the FBI, still pending, and claims by a Las Vegas cocktail waitress that he assaulted her in a parking garage after she rebuffed his advances just before his 2006 election. Police said they found insufficient evidence to support the woman's claim.
The Republican governor, a former airline and military pilot, served five terms in Congress before winning the governor's seat in 2006. While Gibbons was in Congress, Dawn Gibbons continued to live in Reno. She also entered politics and served three terms in the state Assembly. Two years ago, she sought the congressional seat her husband was giving up, but she lost in the primary.
The couple have a college-age son, and the governor also has two grown children from a previous marriage.
Monday's court order blocks either side from disposing of any community or separate property, or cash in or change beneficiaries on any insurance policy or retirement or pension benefits.