Judge rejects email lawsuit against Blunt

Chris Rizo Jul. 11, 2008, 2:21pm

Matt Blunt (R)

Jay Nixon (D)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.- A judge tossed out a lawsuit Friday filed by one of the investigators appointed by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon who sued Gov. Matt Blunt over access to email records.

The lawsuit against the Republican governor was filed in an effort to obtain access to his administration's email records. The Democratic attorney general claims the governor violated the state's open records laws by deleting e-missives.

The investigators appointed by Nixon are seeking back-up copies of the email correspondence. The governor's office has demanded thousands of dollars in fees to retrieve copies of the emails from 2007.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan dismissed the lawsuit, saying the special investigator, retired state highway patrol superintendent Mel Fisher, had no authority to file the complaint in Nixon's name.

The judge also said Fisher failed to establish a personal claim by citing his rights under the state's open-government Sunshine Law.

"Plaintiff Fisher in his capacity as a Special Investigator for the Attorney General lacks standing to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the Attorney General for the State of Missouri," Callahan wrote in his ruling.

The judge gave the AG's investigators 10 days to file an amended petition "to establish personal standing or to provide the Attorney General the opportunity to join the lawsuit or seek the court."

On Thursday, attorneys representing the governor urged Callahan to dismiss the suit.

The St Louis Post-Dispatch, The Kansas City Star and The Associated Press are seeking to join the lawsuit. The judge said Friday he would take their motion to intervene in the lawsuit under advisement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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