Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Judge rules in favor of Palin's use of private e-mail accounts.

A judge has ruled that the Alaska governor's office can use private e-mail accounts to conduct state business, as former Gov. Sarah Palin sometimes did.

Superior Court Judge Jack W. Smith issued his ruling Wednesday morning. He says there is no provision in state law that prohibits the use of private e-mail accounts when conducting state business.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Anchorage resident Andree McLeod.

McLeod contends such use of private e-mails denies citizens the right to inspect public records.

State lawyers argued that McLeod misinterpreted current state law. And if the practice is to be changed, lawyers said it was up to Alaska lawmakers do it.

I am not sure how the judge came to this conclusion since it seems clear, to me at least, that Palin used these private accounts in an effort to keep anybody from having access to information that she shared with both friends and subordinates.

How is that not wrong?

I wonder how David (The boy who broke into Palin's Yahoo e-mail account) Kerner's case is coming along in Tennessee?


  1. I hope that they appeal to the appellate court. That will likely depend on whether the plaintiff can continue to pay the attorney or if he will handle the appeal free.

  2. Anonymous11:29 AM

    It may be that the law says she can do this, but the law also says she has to provide copies of them if asked, under FOIA. Since she used this account to hide from disclosure and then charged exhorbinant fees for retreiving even a few, it seems only reasonable that she be charged for that fee herself if she chooses to use other accounts for her email.

    In other words, don't pull a Rove. If you choose to use another account, that can't pave the way for you to avoide accountability nor should citizens have to pay for your choice.

    Seems another suit regarding the costs of this Rovian practice might be in order.

  3. I agree with you. Palin always has a motive and in the case with the private emails, she deliberately tried to hide her sneaky bullshit regarding Troopergate and God knows what else.
    Is this a rightwing Judge? Does Alaska appoint or elect judges? Those to answers may help you to figure it out. Also, can't Ms. McLeod appeal this to a higher court?

  4. Anonymous11:46 AM

    So then her private email should be state property also, too or NONE of her emails are state business and open to citizens? Or I guess when the gov has super secret law-breaking, ethics violating emails, they should be on Yahoo and boring emails about appt times on State email. I get it now! Your court has institutionalized secrecy.

  5. Anonymous11:50 AM

    I think it's likely that the law, as written, does not specifically prohibit the use of private email to conduct state business.

    That does not mean that it's not unethical. That does not mean that it doesn't circumvent the system, add cost to government record-keeping.

    On the surface it looks like the judgement is reasonable, that the legislature needs to pass legislation that specifically prohibits it. One hopes that they do so in the next session. Legislation/laws are always going to be at least a couple of steps behind technology AND inventive unethical people -- politicians or other criminals.


  6. Anonymous11:53 AM

    I agree with Anonymous 11:29 AM. IMO if the law states that official business can be conducted using a private e-mail account then citizens should lawfully be able to obtain copies of all of her private e-mail since they became public property when the private account was used for official business. I hope this ruling comes back to bite Mrs. Palin in the ass.


  7. CGinWI11:53 AM

    Unfortunately, "wrong" and "illegal" aren't always the same thing. I know absolutely nothing about Alaska law, but it is possible that the judge was correctly reading the law as currently written.

    I should think that whether a private account is legally subject to FOIA is a separate subject all together.

  8. FOIA 'em. The p'bots are jumping up and down. If its OK to use Yahoo, then lets see 'em!

  9. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Smoke signals are good too.

  10. Anonymous1:30 PM

    They are still public records, and any politician foolish enough to use her private email for public business opens up her "private" email for public inspection.

  11. InJuneau1:31 PM

    mary b--the gov. appoints judges then we get to vote on retaining them every 4 years or something like that. If they're not retained, then the position is open and the gov. gets to make another appointment.

  12. womanwithsardinecan1:48 PM

    It is really too bad that the judge didn't address the real issue of public accessibility in his ruling. He could have said that if the governor uses private email accounts then they have to be preserved. The issue is not whether the state allows yahoo accounts, but that the public has the right to access. That's pretty straightforward, yet the judge went around it. Sounds like somebody was deliberately avoiding it, if you ask me.

  13. Sounds like one of those activist judges.

  14. TwoBlueJays2:19 PM

    I imagine there was some leeway in the interpretation, and IF the judge had been so inclined (read: not biased and beholden) he could have ruled otherwise. But so it goes in Alaska in the aftermath of Palin. Interesting if your new Gov comments on the decision: did he not say publicly that private email for state business was not okay and that his Admin would not do that?

  15. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Gosh so sorry anti-Palin bloggers. When are you ignoramus' going to give it a rest?

  16. Anonymous2:26 PM

    The mudflats server is not responding. It is 6:20 pm Eastern on August 12, 2009. Pass the word if you have a similar experience.

  17. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Actually Lisan, it depends on slightly more officious criteria:

    Was there a violation of constitutionality? Was the decision outside the scope of the lower court or in any way unlawful? (3) Did the court simply blow the ruling and reach a decision contrary to the evidence
    presented? Was the decision arbitrary? Was there a procedural error by the court that was instrumental in the decision of the court--a decision which might not have been reached had the error not been committed? Is there new evidence available that might have resulted in a contrary opinion?

    It takes more than money to Appeal.

  18. onejrkitty3:05 PM

    The judge ruled on the law.

    He did NOT rule on whether it was "right" to use the private emails.

    He simply ruled that there is NO LAW against using the emails.

    I would hope there is more to this ruling comment wise that perhaps the media failed to report.

    REMEMBER THAT THE LAW IS JUST THAT-- THE LAW. It does NOT address what is ethical and/or right.

    This judge literally had no alternative but to rule the way he did.

    He could have, should have, and perhaps did, write in his opinion that the law needs to be changed as this is NOT a good idea.

    HOWEVER, while I do not have the exact wording, I belive Alaska statute makes ALL state business available via the Freedom Of Information Act and THAT WOULD INCLUDE THE PRIVATE EMAILS !

    In other words, the private emails are now subject to FOIA and Palin would have to turn them over ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    Because the judge ruled private emails are not illegal, then, therefore, they ARE a legal way of conducting state business and because Ak. Statute allows FOIA discovery of ALL forms of state business, PALIN AND THE STATE ARE NOW IN A BIND. I.E. IF PURSUED, I BELIEVE THAT LEGALLY, THE STATE WOULD HAVE TO TURN OVER THE PRIVATE EMAILS ! ! ! !

    I also believe this ruling may very well help the young man in Tennessee. IF the info he accessed is open to the FOIA then all he did was access the legally available information ! ! ! !

    GET IT :)

  19. Anonymous3:37 PM

    The judge couldn't do anything if Alaska law didn't specifically say that emails must be sent on state systems-- As Sarah Palin said when she decorated her office as mayor of Wasilla, she's going to do what she wants till someone tells her different. Undoubtedly no one anticipated this.

    However, as the AP story notes, the Alaska legislature did introduce a bill this spring that would require public employees to send state emails on a state email system. The bill would also impose a $100 cap on charges for producing public records, and add "impeachment" to the list of penalties for people who obstruct justice in producing records.

    Why can't you cut and paste on this site? Anyway it's H.B. 195

  20. E-mail Archiving For Executive Employees

  21. womanwithsardinecan4:08 PM

    I don't think people are disputing that the judge ruled according to the law. But a judge can lay out some reasoning in his comments, such as the obvious conclusion that if yahoo accounts are legal under Alaska law, then it also makes them "official" and therefore subject to FOIA and the requirement to preserve them. Careful judges lay out the "outside" stuff in comments, the stuff that really is part of the case but outside the direct ruling.

  22. things sarah didnt read...

    if she used her state BB to contact Arctic cat this is bad...

    In summary, state business records generated on a personal cell
    phone or PDA are public records subject to review and disclosure, unless the Public
    Records Act permits them to be withheld. Personal records are likely protected
    from public disclosure but are not protected from state official or court review to
    the extent necessary to identify state business records.

    Alaska Statute 40.25.110 provides, with certain exceptions, that public records of
    all public agencies are open to inspection by the public. The Public Records Act defines
    the term “public records” to mean “books, papers, files, accounts, writings, including
    drafts and memorializations of conversations, and other items, regardless of format or
    physical characteristics, that are developed or received by a public agency, or by a private
    contractor for a public agency, and that are preserved for their informational value or as
    32 AS 39.52.410(c).
    33 AS 39.52.440 and .450.
    Annette Kreitzer August 21, 2008
    AGO File No. 661-08-0388 Page 13
    evidence of the organization or operation of the public agency; ‘public records’ does not
    include proprietary software programs.”

    Can I send personal messages from my state account?
    Occasionally, personal e-mail may be sent from work unless management policy prohibits such activity. Most agencies view personal use of e-mail in the same manner as the use of your office phone for personal calls. However, remember that all messages sent from work computers may be considered public records and that system administrators and the public have the right to view all non-confidential/privileged messages in the enterprise archiving system, including your personal messages.

  23. Bellypad4:21 PM

    FOIA people...get those requests that were made honored. And, make new FOIA request...may I suggest requesting any and all e-mails to/from the former gov. and the former head of the public health department. Also, too, e-mails between the crazy one and the members of the personnel board, you betcha.

  24. The judge ruled on the law. In a very narrow fashion, but...

    state business records generated on a personal cell
    phone or PDA are public records subject to review and disclosure, unless the Public
    Records Act permits them to be withheld. Personal records are likely protected
    from public disclosure but are not protected from state official or court review to
    the extent necessary to identify state business records....

    She fucked on this, IF someone in AK state gov has 2 connected brain cells......

  25. All we need is her Yahoo account to start. Any mails to the Cat? Any State biz mails at all will be reviewable.

    Now that she is the lamest of ducks, there should be no fear of retribution, less redactions and lots of fun!

    Somewhere in yahooo-land ms. lack-o-transparancy has left a trail of criminal activity IN MY OPINION, and now we can begin to find it....

    I'm in for $20!

  26. BTW, I copied and pasted all of that stuff. Vista Home edition..IE 8. Fast machine..

    This site DOES still crash on me on my other machine and still loads a bit slowly, but the new laptop makes it much better. Also not getting the 50 runaway IE windows I used to get from time to time...

    SO, Gryph....I am going to sue you for poor blog performance with my last PC....With a class action suit for those who cant cut and paste!


  27. Anonymous6:11 PM

    "The judge said it was not against 'the law,' but it doesn't mean it isn't immoral or unethical."

    Seems this can be applied to abortion, too, huh? Oh, but abortion's okay, right? But, God forbid, personal email messages - oh, that's over the top!!!!

  28. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Such ruling sounds like it benefits the public.

    H.B.195 sounds like a real good bill.

  29. Sec. 11.46.740. Criminal use of computer.

    (a) A person commits the offense of criminal use of a computer if, having no right to do so or any reasonable ground to believe the person has such a right, the person knowingly accesses, causes to be accessed, or exceeds the person's authorized access to a computer, computer system, computer program, computer network, or any part of a computer system or network, and, as a result of or in the course of that access,

    (1) obtains information concerning a person;

    (2) introduces false information into a computer, computer system, computer program, or computer network with the intent to damage or enhance the data record or the financial reputation of a person;

    (3) introduces false information into a computer, computer system, computer program, or computer network and, with criminal negligence, damages or enhances the data record or the financial reputation of a person;

    (4) obtains proprietary information of another person;

    (5) obtains information that is only available to the public for a fee;

    (6) introduces instructions, a computer program, or other information that tampers with, disrupts, disables, or destroys a computer, computer system, computer program, computer network, or any part of a computer system or network; or

    (7) encrypts or decrypts data.

    (b) In this section, "proprietary information" means scientific, technical, or commercial information, including a design, process, procedure, customer list, supplier list, or customer records that the holder of the information has not made available to the public.

    (c) Criminal use of a computer is a class C felony.

  30. My guess is that there are no emails left on her private account that are from her govt. days. She erased those long ago.

  31. Bones AK6:46 PM

    Superior Court Judge Jack W. Smith. The next time I see his name on a ballot.....

  32. (5) obtains information that is only available to the public for a fee;

    Number 5, Number 5, Number 5...

  33. she cannot erase state business emails from her private email account. the law is clear on that. someone needs to request all of the emails, if some have been deleted, that is a violation.
    what are the penalties for destruction of public records?

  34. Anonymous8:25 PM

    I wonder if anyone has legally requested that Yahoo preserve the emails from all of those accounts. We know that Frank Bailey set up accounts within the Yahoo network for himself, Ivy Frye, Kris Perry, and both Sarah & Todd Palin, and Todd is the only one who is not a State Employee (at least he isn't paid for the stuff he does), but all those other accounts fall under the FOIA, and should be frozen and preserved.

    We know that Palin terminated her Yahoo account after the hacking incident, and while her account may have been frozen and preserved for the court case, the others are of importance as well.


  35. Anonymous9:49 PM

    I believe there needs to be an immediate grassroots movement to get our legislators to update the law to correct this deficiency & reflect today's technological & political environment. Now that it is known that private emails are allegedly OK to conduct state business anyone who has something to hide will use it to do so.
    Just because the law does not specifically prohibit this practice, it does NOT mean it is right! Come on, this is just common sense.

  36. So. That means the "private" yahoo account is now public and open to scrutiny and requests under the Freedom of Information Act....right?

  37. Anonymous11:20 PM

    The problem with this is, how exactly is the state going to access those emails in order to respond to any records requests?

    How are they going to be able to verify that nothing that is state business has been deleted?

    How are they going to permanently archive those emails when they do not reside on the state servers?

    If the person is unethical enough to use private email for state busniess, how can they possibly be trusted to turn over everything out of those accounts when a records request is made?

  38. the problem child5:51 AM

    Anonymous @11:20 BINGO! Obviously this is a gap in the law in need of lots of duct tape.

  39. Anonymous6:08 AM

    Anonymous @11:20,

    Good points all, and you will get no reassuring answers from anyone within the Alaska Government.

    The state will not be able to verify that all state business on private emails has been saved and forwarded to a state account.

    Using the honor system with someone who has already proven that they cannot be trusted to behave in a open and transparent manner is just ludacris, and one reason I praise Andree McLeod for pursuing this matter.


  40. Maybe a payoff occurred? In theory, there's nothing wrong with it, I suppose. But the problem with theory and reality is that they don't always jive together. Like in the case of Palin using the private e-mail accounts to conduct state business.

    And it's much more simple to break into a private account by someone such as Yahoo (since a boy did it...boy...meaning someone young...).

    It's actually not only clandestine to do something like that, it's pretty irresponsible.

  41. A principle of the Information Age: Government is wise to organize itself and its records so it can swiftly and efficiently respond to freedom-of-information-act requests. Resistance to such requests is wasteful and makes government look out-of-touch. --Ben


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