A federal judge Friday ordered sealed thousands of pages of documents and sworn depositions detailing the clash between the Buzz and the Trappers.
The documents will be sealed for 10 days while attorneys for the Buzz prepare a motion explaining why they should be sealed permanently.Hours after U.S. District Judge David Sam signed the order, 41 pounds of sealed documents were carted into the courthouse.
The documents allegedly include depositions of Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini, Jazz owner Larry H. Miller, former Corradini associate Don Leonard and Buzz owner Joseph Buzas as well as transcripts from secret arbitration between the Trappers and the Buzz.
The Trappers filed the documents in court because "we think they will shed light on the case," said Dale Kimball, attorney for the defunct baseball team.
The case is a lawsuit the Buzz filed in federal court against the Trappers after a national arbitration board ordered the Buzz to pay $2 million to the Trappers.
Buzas wired $1.2 million to the Trappers earlier this month. But he is challenging the $500,000 he was ordered to pay for allegedly "tampering" in gaining access to the Salt Lake market.
He has denied any wrongdoing and is appealing that part of the arbitration decision to Sam.
Neither the Trappers nor city officials object to the documents being made public.
"We see no reason why they ought to be under seal," Kimball said.
Salt Lake City Attorney Roger Cutler said Friday he was unaware of the legal maneuverings to seal the records.
"This is coming from left field for me," Cutler said.
He said he didn't know of any information in the records that would prove embarrassing to Leonard, Corradini or the city.
"The worst thing in that file is the thing (the media) already has," Cutler said, referring to an agreement that would have paved the way for Leonard to buy the baseball team from Buzas for $7 million.
But the Buzz are adamant about keeping the documents secret.
"The arbitration proceeding was confidential. . . . They contain proprietary financial information about all of the parties, and they ought to be kept confidential. That was the agreement, and that agreement has never been changed," said Robert Campbell, attorney for the Buzz.
The Trappers believe the Buzz violated the confidentiality agreement when they filed a lawsuit challenging the arbitration award.
But Campbell disagrees.
Leonard was an emissary for Corradini when the city was trying to snag a Triple A baseball team.
He connected with Buzas and persuaded him to move his team, the Portland Beavers, from Portland, Ore., to Utah.
Leonard was acting on behalf of steel magnate Joe Cannon and Miller to buy the baseball team.
Days after signing the agreement, Buzas and Leonard agreed to call off the transaction. The deal became public recently when a copy of the agreement was accidently filed in a public court record as part of the Trappers vs. Buzz arbitration case.
"Don was merely trying to have a local owner here, not to get any gain," Cutler said.
City officials would like to see a few of the sealed records themselves. Since Leonard's deposition, Cutler has tried to get a copy of the deposition transcript. Although Cutler was present during Leonard's testimony, he said his requests for a transcript have repeatedly been spurned.
"It is not us that is trying to hide anything," Cutler said.
The Trappers agreed to sealing the files for 10 days "just to give Bob Campbell and his office time to see whether they can justify the sealing of the file or not," Kimball said.