Judge rejects media groups' request for transcript of Yellowstone Club founder's examination

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BILLINGS, Montana — A federal bankruptcy judge has turned down a request from media organizations to make public the details of a debtor's examination undergone by Yellowstone Club founder Tim Blixseth.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher closed the Nov. 3 exam at Blixseth's request after an Associated Press reporter and attorneys from the state Department of Revenue sought to attend.

The AP and Bozeman Daily Chronicle late intervened in the case requesting a transcript of the examination.

But Kirscher said in a recent order that the examination was not a public proceeding. He also said the transcripts were not judicial records subject to public review.

During the examination in Butte, creditors' attorneys questioned Blixseth about his assets. They're seeking to collect on a pair of civil fraud judgments against Blixseth totaling $241 million and stemming from the Yellowstone Club's 2008 bankruptcy.

Blixseth declined comment Monday. In earlier arguments against the media organizations' request, Blixseth attorney Philip Stillman said it would violate his client's privacy rights if the transcript were released.

Kirscher agreed with that assertion — and rejected the media organizations' contention that the examination should be public because it required judicial supervision.

"While that examination that took place on November 3, 2014, could have been conducted by this court or a court-appointed referee, it was not," Kirscher wrote.

Martha Sheehy, the attorney in the case for the AP and the Chronicle, said no decision had been made on whether to appeal Kirscher's ruling.

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