Update: The judge ruled today that the borough must release most of the documents being sought. He ordered the release not to occur until 4 p.m. Tuesday in order to allow time for the ruling to be appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.
From David Hulen in Anchorage –
An unusual weekend hearing is scheduled in Fairbanks Superior Court this afternoon on the lawsuit brought by news organizations seeking release of certain personnel files of Senate candidate Joe Miller from his time working as a part-time attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
The suits, against the borough, were filed separately by Alaska Dispatch and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, were joined by the ADN and Associated Press, then combined into one case. Miller is fighting the release and was added as a party. We posted the lawsuits and some of the initial response here last week.
The essence of the argument is whether public interest in the material, which describes any disciplanary action Miller received while employed by the borough, outweighs his right to privacy.
The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. before retired Judge Winston Burbank.
A flurry of documents were filed by various parties over the past couple days in preparation for the hearing today. Among them:
> Miller’s opposition to releasing the documents. Miller’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, argues the documents sought are not public under the law.
> A motion filed by Van Flein asking for for expedited discovery that would allow him to take sworn statements from borough employees, ex-Mayor Jim Whitaker, blogger Andrew Halcro and others.
> Miller’s answer to the Dispatch suit with an additional complaint against the borough claiming that information from Miller’s file was illegally leaked. The complaint also accuses Whitaker of making "illegal and unconstitutional disclosures" when he said in interviews that Miller had been disciplined for improper use of borough computers.
> The borough’s response to Miller, arguing the borough did nothing to violate his rights.
> A response from the borough asking the court to decide what should be released.
Our Kyle Hopkins, who has been in Fairbanks covering the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, will be covering the hearing, so check back.