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Suit for access to speaker nominations dismissed by court

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Suit for access to speaker nominations dismissed by court12/04/95 MISSOURI--The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in early November lost another round in…

Suit for access to speaker nominations dismissed by court

12/04/95

MISSOURI–The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in early November lost another round in its effort to halt Missouri House Democrats from nominating a candidate for House speaker behind closed doors.

The newspaper filed suit in early November in Circuit Court in Jefferson City seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the secret nomination. Judge Tom Brown rejected that request two days later.

Prior to the suit, the newspaper asked the House Democratic Caucus Secretary, Rep. May Scheve (D-Affton), to open the nomination caucus to the public. Rep. Affton denied that request.

In its suit the Post-Dispatch argued that the majority Democrats qualified as a public governmental body under Missouri’s open meetings law. The Democratic legislators countered that the caucus was a “voluntary political association of Democratic House members” and thus not subject to the law.

Judge Tom Brown of Jefferson City rejected the newspaper’s request for a temporary restraining order, finding that the Democratic nominating caucus was not a “de facto meeting of the Missouri General Assembly,” nor was it a “public governmental body” required to be open under the state Constitution or Missouri statutes.

The newspaper’s attorney, Mary Schultz, said the newspaper intends to pursue its efforts in the trial court to open the nominating caucus. (Pulitzer Publ. Co. v. Missouri House of Reps.; Media Counsel: Mary Schultz)