SEATTLE (AP) — KIRO Seattle said Thursday there’s no truth to King County, Wash., executive candidate and former news anchor Susan Hutchison’s claim that the station imposed “shackles of silence” barring her from speaking about a lawsuit between the parties. Hutchison, who had been an anchor for 20 years, sued the station in 2003 after […]
SEATTLE (AP) — KIRO Seattle said Thursday there’s no truth to King County, Wash., executive candidate and former news anchor Susan Hutchison’s claim that the station imposed “shackles of silence” barring her from speaking about a lawsuit between the parties.
Hutchison, who had been an anchor for 20 years, sued the station in 2003 after it replaced her and lowered her pay. A King County judge sealed records in the case when when it was settled in 2005, and now that Hutchison is running for the nonpartisan office, news organizations, including The Associated Press, are seeking to have those records unsealed.
Hutchison has resisted making some of the documents public, saying in part that they were filed by KIRO and are one-sided. Her lawyer claimed that she’s “muzzled” from speaking publicly about the case and would not be able to give her side of the story.
King County Superior Court Judge Tim Bradshaw said he would rule Friday on whether to unseal them.
“The very fact that Hutchison has been muzzled as part of the resolution of the litigation adds to the weight of the compelling reason to maintain the court files under seal indefinitely,” her attorney, Jon Rosen, wrote in a court filing Wednesday.
In a footnote, he added: “Of course, should the defendants indicate a willingness to release Hutchison from the shackles of silence, the compelling need would be greatly reduced.”
Rosen also claimed in court papers that he asked KIRO last month whether it would be OK for Hutchison to discuss the facts surrounding the case, the litigation and the resolution, but the station refused.
Bruce Johnson, a lawyer for KIRO, said Thursday that was false.
“There is absolutely nothing ‘muzzling’ Ms. Hutchison,” he wrote to the judge. “In fact, in a letter dated July 21, 2009, we reminded Mr. Rosen and his client that there is no prohibition on them from speaking publicly about the case or the litigation.”
The only topic Hutchison cannot discuss is the terms of the settlement itself, which remain bound by a confidentiality agreement, Johnson wrote.
The settlement is not part of the court record and would not be made public as a result of any action by the judge.
Neither Hutchison nor Rosen immediately returned calls seeking comment Thursday.