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Cellino & Barnes court fight to be unsealed

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WBFO News

Sometime Tuesday, the public may find out why Ross Cellino and Steve Barnes are fighting to dissolve their personal injury law firm.

State Supreme Court Justice Deborah Chimes had originally sealed the complaint in the case, but decided Monday to unseal it. The complaint will be released when Cellino lawyer Terry Connors prepares a specific legal document and the judge signs it.

This does not cover any of the documents being used in a mediation intended to end the case. The sealing had been challenged by a number of newspapers, including the Buffalo News, New York Post and New York Daily News.

According to newspaper lawyer Karim Abdulla, laws and court decisions say it is important for records to be public.

"That court access be something that is for the people," said Abdulla. "As members of the press yourselves, I think that you recognize that you often act as surrogates for the public. I am here on behalf of the Buffalo News, New York Daily News and the New York Post and we think that this is an important thing that we need to maintain vigilance with respect to this, making sure that court proceedings and court records always stay open."

Cellino was in the courtroom while partner Barnes was not. Cellino said the operation of the law firm continues because lawyers are still handling cases and winning.

Both sides said the case might be resolved quickly or it might hang around for the long haul. The two sides should know very soon which will occur.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.