Alaska SC agrees to hear Troopergate case

Sarah Palin (R)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Legal Newsline)-The Alaska Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal that would block the release of findings of an abuse of power investigation that could prove damaging to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The state high court will review a decision by Anchorage Superior Judge Peter Michalski, who Thursday dismissed a request by a group of Republican legislators to block the investigation.

For his part, Attorney General Talis Colberg's request to block subpoenas of state workers to testify in the case was also denied by the judge.

The emergency lawsuit was filed by the Plano, Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute and Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Wednesday and rule by the end of Thursday.

State lawmakers are investigating whether Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, and several top aides pressured Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire Trooper Mike Wooten, who was engaged in a bitter divorce and child custody dispute with Palin's sister.

Officials are also probing Palin's subsequent firing of Monegan. Palin has said Monegan was fired over budget and spending disagreements.

The Republicans' appeal seeks to block Steve Branchflower, the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, from releasing his report Friday, as scheduled.

"The plaintiffs and Alaskans will suffer irreparable harm if the investigation at issue continues and if the resulting investigative report issues as planned on Oct. 10, 2008," a brief to the Supreme Court said.

The attorney general, who is a Palin appointee, is not a party to the lawsuit to be heard by the Alaska Supreme Court.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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