A District Court judge has ordered Yellowstone County to turn over a copy of an investigation into a complaint about a jailer by Feb. 2 3 or appear in cour t t o explain why it won't. The Gazette in mid-January requested a copy of a human resources investigation conducted after a complaint was f i l ed agains t S h e r i f f ' s C a p t . De n n i s McCave at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility. On Feb. 3 , the count y asked that a judge look over the documents and decide what can be released. "The county simply does not have the authori ty to make this type of decision," De p u t y Co un t y At to rney Kevin Gillen wrote. Martha Sheehy, attorney for the Gazette, argued that because the documents are considered public, the county is required to weigh privacy interests against the public's right to know, and cannot pass that duty to a judge. She said some of those named in the investigation could assert their right to privacy, but argued state law is clear that McCave doesn' t have the same expectation of privacy that an ordinary citizen has. Tuesday, District Judge Ingrid Gustafson ordered the county to turn over the documents or face a court hearing. This is the third legal dispute in recent weeks between The Gazette and the county over public information. Last week, The Gazet te filed a lawsuit against the county seeking information about a county investigation into an unnamed elected official. Gustafson ordered the county to release that information by Feb. 17 or appear in court with an explanation. And two weeks ago, The Gazette filed a motion to intervene in the wrongfuldeath lawsuit filed by the fami l y o f Li l l i a n S t a h l against the county and the city of Billings. In that case, both the ci ty and count y sought and obtained a protective order, which allows documents in the lawsuit to be filed under seal, preventi n g p u b l i c a c c e s s . T h e Gazette is challenging that order. Stahl was killed when a vehicle of f icers had been pursuing ran a red light and smashed into her car.
Gazette seeks information on county investigation
Published: Thursday, February 11th, 2010
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