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Detroit reporters won’t have to testify on text messages sources

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A Wayne County judge ruled Thursday that the embattled Detroit mayor and his ex-chief of staff can't force reporters to…

A Wayne County judge ruled Thursday that the embattled Detroit mayor and his ex-chief of staff can’t force reporters to reveal how they obtained the former couple’s flirtatious text messages. 

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty wanted to depose reporters from the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News to discover who leaked the potentially incriminating text messages. Their lawyers sought the depositions not in the criminal case, but in a Freedom of Information lawsuit The Free Press and The News have filed seeking details of an underlying whistle-blower settlement.

"Everyone would like to know how The Free Press got the text messages, but it’s not relevant to this case," Circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr. wrote.

Kilpatrick and Beatty’s lawyers contend that the text message leak violated the federal Stored Communications Act. They said after Colombo’s ruling that they’ll try to question the reporters in the criminal case instead.

The mayor and his former staffer have pleaded not guilty to perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice charges stemming from text messages they sent each other on a city pager between 2002 and 2003. The messages seem to indicate they had a romantic relationship, though both denied it under oath in the whistle blower case.