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Judge gives newspaper Romney testimony from old lawsuit

Posted at 12:08 PM, Oct 25, 2012

From Raelyn Johnson, CNN

CANTON, Massachusetts (CNN) – A Massachusetts judge on Thursday unsealed testimony by Mitt Romney in a lawsuit linked to a colleague’s contentious divorce battle more than 20 years ago.

The Boston Globe, with the support of civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, sought to make public the testimony Romney gave in the lawsuit that followed the divorce between Staples co-Founder Tom Stemberg and Maureen Stemberg Sullivan.

Romney, the Republican candidate for president in next month’s election, worked closely with Stemberg in the development of Staples, the business supply chain. Stemberg spoke at the Republican National Convention in August that nominated Romney.

Massachusetts state Judge Jennifer Ulwick granted the Boston Globe’s request for the testimony, but refused to lift a gag order that prevents Stemberg Sullivan from talking about her dealings and interactions with Romney.

Lawyers for Stemberg and Romney told Thursday’s hearing they had no objection to releasing the Romney testimony to the Boston Globe.

Ulwick said the Romney testimony was being released to the newspaper without restrictions.

Allred announced after the hearing she would provide copies of the Romney transcripts to other media outlets.

The Boston Globe petitioned the court on October 15 to release Romney’s testimony in the lawsuit filed in 1990, but Ulwick said at an initial hearing on Wednesday that she believed the documents had been destroyed.

However, Allred and Stemberg Sullivan urged the court to agree to the newspaper’s request and, in a surprise move, provided two volumes of Romney’s testimony to the court.

Stemberg’s attorney also admitted to having additional transcripts from the decades-old case.

Allred revealed Thursday that her office discovered a third volume of testimony overnight and was additionally seeking to amend the original gag order in the divorce proceedings that date back to 1989.

“My client has been denied her first amendment right,” Allred said. “She apparently is the only person the United States of America, maybe even the world, who cannot speak about Governor Romney.”

Ulwick refused to rule on the request to modify or lift the gag order, saying the only motion before the court was the newspaper’s request for the testimony.

Allred indicated she would file a separate motion seeking to amend the gag order.

CNN’s Ashley Killough and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.