AG Nixon isn't joining lawsuit against governor; seeks special counsel

By Chris Rizo | Jul 19, 2008

Jay Nixon (D)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline)-Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's office has asked a state judge name a special assistant attorney general to pursue a lawsuit against Gov. Matt Blunt over access to e-mail records.

In a letter Friday, Deputy Attorney General Karen Mitchell requested that a special assistant attorney general be selected to continue with the lawsuit and that the trial judge allow more time to amend the lawsuit before the case is dismissed.

The letter also said Nixon will not join the lawsuit.

"The Attorney General does not intend at this time to join the lawsuit as a party. Rather, we request that this Court appoint a Special Assistant Attorney General," the letter said.

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

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

Last week, 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.

"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.

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."

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

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