LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Liberal critics of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette have cleared a procedural hurdle in a lawsuit seeking emails from the private accounts of key members of his staff.

A group called Progress Michigan believes Schuette and 20 staffers for years used private email to discuss public business. The group filed a lawsuit after the attorney general's office responded to a public records request by saying it possessed only one record and it was exempt.

A judge at the Court of Claims declined to dismiss the lawsuit this week. The attorney general's office said Progress Michigan's lawsuit was outside a 180-day window to get to court. But Judge Cynthia Stephens said the complaint was timely.

Schuette, a Republican, is running for governor in 2018.