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Morgan e-mail hearing Friday

By Sheryl Marsh · 340-2437

As the court date nears for a judge to hear a public records case involving e-mails on Morgan County computers both sides are preparing by taking depositions.

Circuit Judge Steve Haddock has a hearing set Friday at 9 a.m. for a lawsuit that District 4 Commissioner Stacy George filed in January.

George filed the litigation against County Commission Chairman John Glasscock, District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark and David Hannah, the county’s data processing manager.

George alleges that the trio denied him access to public electronic records on the main e-mail server at the courthouse in December.

Huntsville attorney Julian Butler, who represents Glasscock, Clark and Hannah, took a deposition from George on Monday. The defendants were present.

George’s attorney, Hubert Porter, plans to take depositions from Glasscock, Clark and Hannah on Thursday.

A deposition entails answering questions under oath.

George is seeking access to e-mails of elected officials, department heads and employees on the main server. After the hearing Friday, the judge will determine whether the officials wrongfully denied George access to the records.

Haddock issued a temporary restraining order in February to stop the defendants from destroying the public records.

In the same ruling he denied George's request to access public records because he had no evidence that showed which computer records would be exempt from public disclosure.

The ruling stated that, "These are determinations that must await a hearing in which evidence is presented and each side has an opportunity to address the legal issues that arise from the plaintiff's requested injunctive relief."

Before issuing the restraining order, Haddock required George to post surety of $4,500 for possible court costs if either defendant was wrongfully enjoined. George posted the amount in cash with the circuit clerk.

George said he borrowed the money from a bank. Taxpayers from Decatur, Hartselle, Trinity, Somerville and other parts of the county sent and gave George donations to help repay the loan.

"I've paid it all but $550," George said. "I am so grateful to the people of this county for their support of this issue. I've gotten donations from $5 to $500, and the amount doesn't matter. I appreciate every donation because these people obviously want government to stay open."

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