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Detroit papers fight depositions in mayor's text message scandal

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
Two Detroit newspapers are fighting indicted Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's attempts to depose their reporters amid his ongoing legal woes.

Two Detroit newspapers are fighting indicted Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s attempts to depose their reporters amid his ongoing legal woes.

Kilpatrick’s team wants to question reporters from the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News to figure out who leaked the salacious and potentially incriminating text messages that sparked his perjury case, The News reported. Lawyers for the papers filed a motion for a protective order seeking to bar the depositions.

Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, have pleaded not guilty to perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice charges rooted in text messages they sent each other between 2002 and 2003. The messages seem to indicate they had a romantic relationship, though both denied as much in a whistle-blower case.

The two papers sued for all of the text messages under the Freedom of Information Act. Lawyers for Kilpatrick and Beatty have since intervened in that suit.

Mayer Morganroth, representing Beatty, indicated to The News that the FOIA suit would make it tough for the reporters to escape depositions:  "The FOIA request is all about the text messages. Our intent is to learn what they did and how they got this information," Morganroth is quoted as saying. "You can’t be the plaintiffs and say it only goes one way. You can’t come in and try to get relief without being subjected to the same type of procedure. It’s a two-way street."

But an attorney for The News said the reporters can’t be forced to talk about issues that aren’t relevant to the FOIA suit — and when it comes to public records, you don’t have to explain your request.