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Judge finds former Detroit mayor's text messages are public

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  1. Freedom of Information
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his onetime chief of staff, Christine Beatty, have lost their bid to keep private un-redacted copies…

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his onetime chief of staff, Christine Beatty, have lost their bid to keep private un-redacted copies of hundreds of text messages they exchanged on city-owned equipment, the Detroit Free Press reports:

(Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy) Kenny’s ruling boils down to one thing: Kilpatrick and Beatty can’t keep the messages secret because they are not their messages. They are the property of the government and only the government can seek to keep them secret. In other words, Kilpatrick and Beatty should have realized they were creating public records that the public has a right to see to help it understand how government works.

Barring an appeal, the ruling caps one part of a long-running legal battle the Free Press, for one, has waged for a full airing of the text-message scandal that brought Kilpatrick down. The Free Press last year published one batch of messages indicating he and Beatty had an affair, despite denying it under oath in a lawsuit. Kilpatrick has since resigned.

The Free Press says his and Beatty’s attorneys argued that the unreleased, unredacted texts were protected by the marital and attorney-client privileges — since some messages included exchanges with their attorneys and spouses — or by the "deliberative process, because some messages discussed negotiations." Kenny rejected each of those claims.