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Effort to seal records in Huizar harassment lawsuit opposed by Times

April 25, 2014|By David Zahniser
  • Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar and Francine Godoy, his former deputy chief of staff.
Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar and Francine Godoy, his former… (Al Seib / Irfan Khan / Los…)

The Times filed a motion Friday opposing a court order that would bar public access to records in a sexual harassment case involving Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar.

The newspaper said it is seeking to be heard on the public's right to access records in the lawsuit filed last year by former Huizar Deputy Chief of Staff Francine Godoy because the case involves "matters of substantial public interest."

Huizar attorney Dennis Walsh filed paperwork four weeks ago seeking a protective order to prohibit disclosure of "private and sensitive information" until it becomes evidence at trial. Information collected during the case's pretrial discovery phase should not be used to "titillate the public," he said in the filing.

The Times argued the proposed order is overly broad and would violate court rules and the 1st Amendment. The public has an interest in assessing the truthfulness of allegations of official misconduct, the newspaper said in its filing.

Robert Alaniz, spokesman for Huizar's lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Godoy's lawsuit accused Huizar of waging a campaign of harassment and retaliation after she declined to provide “sexual favors.” Huizar has said the allegations are false. He said he had a consensual, extramarital affair with Godoy, now an employee with the city’s Bureau of Sanitation.

Godoy’s lawyers asked the city for personnel files on Godoy and the councilman and asked Huizar for details regarding their sexual activity, according to paperwork submitted by Walsh. Three months later, Walsh moved for a protective order, saying Huizar should not be exposed to an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

Michael Eisenberg, Godoy's lawyer, did not oppose Huizar's motion during a hearing this week.

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david.zahniser@latimes.com
Twitter: twitter.com/davidzahniser

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