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Lawyers Seek to Keep Mayor's Laptop Private

October 13, 2005|From Associated Press

RITZVILLE, Wash. — Lawyers for Spokane Mayor James E. West told a judge Wednesday that the contents of his City Hall laptop computer were not public record and should not be released.

West's lawyers acknowledged that the mayor had visited gay-oriented websites and that the computer contained about 1,800 files of photos and correspondence from West to people on sites such as gay.com.

But they said the files did not relate to city business and were not looked at on city time, and may have been placed in the laptop by the websites.

"How can the mayor be responsible for materials that through no volitional act are dumped onto his computer?" lawyer Bill Etter asked Adams County Superior Court Judge Richard Miller, who is hearing the case.

After more than an hour of arguments, Miller said he would examine the computer files in question and decide, possibly as early as next week, whether they should be made public.

"The court has to look at the requested information to make a determination," he said.

Attorneys for the Spokesman-Review newspaper, who went to court to seek release of the files, said there was no question that West visited the websites.

The files directly relate to federal, state and local misconduct investigations involving West, they said, and clearly should be released under the state's Public Disclosure Act.

West's attorneys argued that releasing the files would amount to an invasion of privacy of the patrons of gay.com and other sites.

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