Crystal Martin apparently filed a motion to seal the case of State Farm v. Crystal Wise Martin and Brandi Barnett two weeks ago. The motion to seal itself was filed under seal but Brandi Barnett filed a response Monday that stated it was a motion to seal the case. Mrs. Martin is the wife of the now-deceased Precious Martin. Mrs. Martin and Brandi Barnett both dispute who should be the proper
beneficiary of a $500,272 life insurance policy held by Mr. Martin
that named Ms. Barnett as the beneficiary. Crystal Martin also said
Ms. Barnett lived in a home owned by Precious Martin and accused her of
"seducing" her husband as she sued her for alienation of affection.
The case has been assigned to Judge Henry Wingate. The response states:
On May 29, 2015, Defendant Martin filed a motion to seal this entire case...
The Court granted by text order the ore tenus request to file the Motion to Seal under seal. There is no record as to the reasons Defendant Martin gave to the Court for such a request.
4. When filing the Motion to Seal, Defendant Martin’s counsel intentionally did not select the “Seal” option in the electronic filing and left the text for the docket sheet blank so no member of the public would have a clue as to what type of motion she was filing.
Based on these actions it is clear Defendant Martin wants to request the Court to prevent the public from having access to the Court records for this case, and does not want to give the public the opportunity to oppose her motion.
6. This type of conduct is improper, and should not be allowed by the Court. If Defendant Martin wants to prevent the public access to the Court’s records, then she should be required to allow the public the opportunity to respond such requests. The public clearly has an interest in such records based on the media’s publication of them.
Ms. Barnett then argues Mrs. Martin can't argue an alienation of affection case while keeping out evidence that the Martins might not exactly have had a rock-solid marriage:
Even now Defendant Martin continues to claim in her motion to seal that allegations of past affairs by Precious Martin are irrelevant, but completely fails to explain why it would be irrelevant. Merely making a legal conclusion of irrelevancy is not enough. Defendant Barnett has explained in her motion and reply why such allegations are relevant, and Defendant Martin simply does not respond to the argument.Attorney Nick Norris then makes his closing argument in favor of keeping the case open to the public and media:
10. Defendant Martin has been provided a copy of Defendant Barnett’s pre-discovery disclosures, which contain a lot more sensitive than what has been placed in the public record. Had Defendant Barnett simply wanted to disclose embarrassing alleged facts so the media would pick them up she could have done so a lot earlier in the case with a lot more detail. Defendant Barnett is willing to e-mail the Court her pre-discovery disclosures and discovery responses so they will not be part of the public record, and the Court will be able to ascertain the restraint Defendant Barnett has used in her case.
The public has a clear right to the court record in this case just like any other case. There is no trade secret, patent, or other private information in the current case that would justify the sealing of an entire case. Defendant Martin had no problem filing public documents alleging Defendant Barnett had intentionally seduced Precious Martin into having an adulterous affair with her, and that Defendant Barnett intentionally tried to end their marriage. However, when embarrassing allegations are filed against Defendant Martin she files a motion to seal under seal so even the public has no idea what she is requesting. Defendant Martin should not be allowed to use the public court record to her benefit when she chooses, and then choose to close the public court record merely because she does not like what she sees.The two sides have sparred in court since the original filings in September. Cross-claims, counterclaims, motions to dismiss, all the weapons of legal warfare have been used at some point in this case. Mrs. Martin is represented by attorney Chuck McRae.
If the Court were to seal the entire record merely because embarrassing allegations were filed in the public record most civil cases would have to sealed. In most civil cases that are filed before this Court there is some allegation that a party could claim is embarrassing.
Kingfish note: Mrs. Martin can't have it both ways. She is the one who contested what appears to be a valid life insurance claim by Brandi Barnett. It was she who filed the alienation of affection lawsuit. She had to know that would invite a response by Mrs. Barnett. Children are not the issue of the contract (Life insurance policy) nor of the alienation of affection lawsuit. There are no minors involved anywhere in this case although Mrs. Martin is probably trying to argue she wants to protect her children from seeing this case as the basis for her motion to seal the case. She even cites a sealed exhibit from this website in one of her sealed filings. There is no reason Judge Wingate should seal this case. Period.
<i>JJ</i> is reviewing legal options and will make a decision about the motion to seal at the appropriate time.
The catfight over Precious Martin continues.
Alienation defendant: Precious had no affections to lose.
Wife & alleged mistress of Precious Martin slug it out in court.