Judge closes Hamm divorce hearing to protect company interests

Opening statements were delivered behind closed doors in the divorce hearing for Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann Hamm.
by Randy Ellis Published: August 5, 2014
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A judge asked media and the public to leave the courtroom for attorneys’ opening statements Monday as the divorce trial began for Oklahoma City oilman Harold Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann.

“There’s no sense destroying a company over a divorce trial,” said Judge Howard Haralson.

The judge expressed particular concern that disclosure of confidential information could harm publicly traded Continental Resources, where Harold Hamm is chairman and majority shareholder.

Not everything in the divorce trial will be closed — just those portions of the trial that concern proprietary business information, Haralson said.

“I sure don’t believe in things being done behind closed doors,” the judge said.

Before the media and the public were asked to leave, attorneys made it clear that much of the divorce battle is expected to be over the quantity of Continental’s oil reserves that are still in the ground and how the value of those reserves should be divvied up between the couple.

“It’s all about the reserves,” said Tulsa attorney Robert Bartz, who represents Sue Ann Hamm. “It’s the subject matter of the trial.”

Eric Eissenstat, general counsel for Continental Resources, read off a long list of anticipated court exhibits that he said contain proprietary information. The judge said he had set aside eight weeks for the trial.

Board minutes, corporate strategies, confidential emails, reserve information and statements made during depositions are among the items Eissenstat argued should be discussed behind closed courtroom doors.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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