Sumner Redstone Wants to Bar the Public From Portions of His Health Care Trial

Redstone's attorneys acknowledge that trials "are presumed open" but argue "this is no ordinary civil proceeding."
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Sumner Redstone, whose television networks made a fortune airing reality shows like The Real World, Survivor and Jersey Shore, is demanding more privacy.

Redstone's attorneys have submitted a proposal in Los Angeles Superior Court that seeks to foreclose the public from attending certain portions of a trial set to begin on May 6. The controlling stakeholder of Viacom and CBS is battling his former companion Manuela Herzer, who has filed a petition to restore her authority to make health care decisions for the 92-year-old. The two sides have previously addressed how decisions in this case would set a precedent for geriatric care in the state of California. Now, however, Redstone's lawyers are holding up Redstone's statutory right of privacy as outweighing public access.

"The overriding interest of Mr. Redstone in preserving his privacy supports limited closing of the courtroom and sealing of exhibits," state court papers filed by Loeb & Loeb. "If trial testimony and exhibits containing confidential medical information are not sealed, they will be widely disseminated by the media, violating not only Mr. Redstone's privacy rights, but compromising the dignity that this Court has endeavored to safeguard throughout this proceeding."

The filing was made on the same day Redstone filed 315 pages of unsealed records, which came after The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and the Los Angeles Times intervened in the case to urge the judge to not to waste a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to learn how and why the probate courts serve the public" and to pay heed to a media figure impacting thousands of employees at his companies and a multitude of shareholders.

Judge David J. Cowan previously granted motions to seal in part and noted, "the privacy and dignity of the patient in the context of this unique proceeding outweigh the interest of the press in scrutinizing judicial proceedings."

It's extremely rare, though, for a judge to close portions of a trial. Redstone's attorneys acknowledge in court papers that trials "are presumed open" but argue that "this is no ordinary civil proceeding," with emphasis on the medical nature of what's happening.

Even if Redstone gets his wish, there's no objection being made to having the public attend testimony from Herzer, Viacom chief Philippe Dauman, Shari Redstone, Sydney Holland and some of the other witnesses not involved in his medical or nursing care. Dauman, for one, is scheduled to be deposed in New York today.