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Court Blocks Release of Ex-Clerk’s E-Mails

September 12, 2005

DENVER (AP) _ The Colorado Supreme Court blocked the release of hundreds of romantic or sexually explicit e-mails between the former Arapahoe County clerk and an employee, ruling Monday they were not public record.

The Rocky Mountain News and Arapahoe County commissioners had sought the release of the e-mails, arguing they were public record because they were written on county computers.

The Supreme Court decided the e-mails between former clerk Tracy Baker and his deputy and girlfriend, Leesa Sale, were exempt from Colorado’s open records law because they dealt with their private lives, not public business.

``The only discernible purpose of disclosing the content of these messages is to shed light on the extent of Baker and Sales’ fluency with sexually explicit terminology and to satisfy the prurient interests of the press and the public,″ the ruling said.

Voters recalled Baker in 2004 and Sale resigned.

The Supreme Court’s ruling overturns two lower courts. A district court ruled in 2003 that all the e-mails should be released. The Colorado Court of Appeals later ruled that Baker and Sale had a limited expectation that their e-mails would be private and knew they were subject to county review.

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