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Tracy Press's battle for e-mails escalates

More than a dozen newspaper companies and press organizations have filed court briefs on behalf of the Tracy Press in its attempt to obtain e-mails written by a Tracy City Council woman to officials with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

While previous cases have established the principle that e-mails written on government accounts are public record, council member Suzanne Tucker wrote the e-mails in question on her personal account using her personal computer.

The Tracy Press lost the first round in this battle when San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Lauren Thomasson ruled in August that because the e-mails were created and kept on Tucker’s personal computer, they are not public documents. The newspaper appealed. On Oct. 18 the appeals court ordered the city to explain why the Tracy Press has no right to the e-mails.

Now the city of Tracy has hired a $380-an-hour attorney, Ann Taylor Schwing of McDonough Holland & Allen, who is said to be an expert on appeals.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association, California First Amendment Coalition and The Associated Press have filed briefs in support of the Tracy Press, as have the following newspapers and newspaper companies: San Francisco Bay Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Copley Press, McClatchy Company, Bakersfield Californian, Herburger Publications, Bay Area News Group-East Bay, Sierra Nevada Media Group, The [Stockton] Record, Metro Publishing Inc. and the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

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