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Sheriff wants his e-mails on own server

By Sheryl Marsh 340-2437

First, the Morgan County Commission put Sheriff Greg Bartlett in charge of deciding which of his e-mails can be released to the public.

Now Bartlett wants to remove all of his e-mails from the courthouse computer system and put them on a new computer server under his control.

Saying it was a matter of homeland security and protecting criminal investigations, Bartlett sued the commissioners to keep them from releasing his e-mails to the public.

During a hearing Friday in the lawsuit, attorneys for both sides argued over who owns the e-mails.

The sheriff's attorneys told Circuit Judge Steve Haddock that Bartlett owns the e-mails and should be allowed to remove them from the county computer server.

Commission attorney Bill Shinn said Morgan County citizens own the electronic records.

Haddock suggested that the two parties seek a state attorney general's opinion or ask state legislators to revisit public records law to resolve whether the e-mails can be removed from the county server.

Haddock dismissed Bartlett's suit seeking to keep the commission from releasing Bartlett's records. He also set aside a restraining order that kept commissioners from releasing the e-mails.

The judge said the county's new policy on electronic records passes the responsibility for releasing sheriff's records to the sheriff.

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