Justice Jeffrey Sunshine

Mother SB moved to seal the courtroom when witness S, her sister, testified about father UB’s alleged abuse of S. UB moved to have S turn over a complete, unredacted diary or precluding her from testifying if she disposed of it. SB filed for supervised visitation of the children while with UB, pending resolution of this motion based on S’s allegations that UB sexually abused her from when she was 10 years old until 13. The court noted there were no contentions the proceedings would be subject to high media scrutiny, nor documentation of the potential, harmful effects on the children, denying the motion to seal the courtroom. SB argued she should not be punished for the loss of the diary as it was S who disposed of it. The court stated as SB submitted excerpts of the diary and was on notice, she was responsible for preserving it, thus permitting SB to use the heavily redacted diary would severely prejudice UB. Hence, the court ruled precluding SB and S from testifying as to its existence or contents at any hearing was appropriate as sanctions for spoliation of the diary.