Estate of Denial:  “When a Davidson County judge closed his courtroom to the public during a conservatorship case involving actress Reese Witherspoon’s father last week, he didn’t just close a day’s proceedings: He sealed the entire case history, something he has done in only a handful of other recent cases.

In sealing the case from public view, 7th Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy said the prejudice that would befall the Witherspoon family outweighs the public’s right to know. Kennedy sealed the entire case file — not just individual medical or financial records — and required the media to leave the courtroom.

But completely blocking access can hinder efforts to curb guardianship abuse and prevents the public from performing its watchdog role over the court system, conservatorship reform advocates and a First Amendment expert said.”