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13-cv-00360

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Case Summary: United States of America v. Story County, Iowa, 13-cv-00360 (S.D. Iowa)

The United States brought this action to prevent Defendant Story County, Iowa from releasing emails sent and received by Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald using his Story County email address. Aside from serving as sheriff, Fitzgerald is also on the board of FirstNet, a federal entity in the Department of Commerce tasked with establishing and operating a nationwide, high speed public safety broadband network for emergency responders. A reporter from Politico asked Story County to disclose any emails related to FirstNet that were sent or received by the sheriff within a two-month period. The Story County Board of Supervisors agreed to release the documents before the government initiated these proceedings.

The Government filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the emails are federal records that do not fall under Iowa’s Public Records Act, and any communications regarding FirstNet are exempt from public disclosure due to the sensitive nature of the program. Story County has filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing the opposite. This video shows the hearing on both motions. In the meantime, Story County has been temporarily forbidden from releasing the emails.

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Case Highlights

  • Complaint filed 8/20/2013 (Doc #1)
  • Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Defendant 9/30/2013 (Doc #7)
  • Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff 11/15/2013 (Doc #12)
  • Hearing held on motions 3/05/2014 (Doc #29)

 

Case-related documents, including those referenced above, are available via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. For more information, visit Pacer.gov.