Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has lost another court ruling in a public-records case that has cost taxpayers well over $600,000 so far.
A former deputy sheriff is pursuing text messages Lindquist sent from his private phone.
Glenda Nissen was still working for the sheriff's office when she opposed Lindquist for re-election eight years ago. She wants the text messages to help prove her claim that he retaliated against her.
The messages are on Prosecutor Lindquist's private phone, so he asserts that they are not public record.
“I'm defending my credibility as well as holding the prosecutor accountable for his actions. You can't hide your public work in your personal phone and think that's OK,” Nissen said.
Thurston County Judge Chris Lanese on Friday ruled for Nissen on 17 of the 19 text messages.
“I am finding that most of them are public records.”
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Judge Lanese reviewed the messages in private.
“While perhaps humorous in nature, (this message) is relaying information about a potential applicant and thus it was prepared by a public employee sharing information that could be of possible use to a public agency,” he said.
“I'm very emotional right now and very pleased. It's been a very long fight,” Nissen said. “I've had to endure a lot of retaliation because I requested these texts for six and half years. So, it's taken its toll. I'm very pleased to find out that the judge has ruled in my favor and has decided that they are public.”
Pierce County taxpayers have spent more than $623,000 defending Lindquist, according to the News Tribune.
In a statement from his attorney, Lindquist maintains, “No government business was conducted with any of these messages.
Public servants and the people who contact them should not have to give up all their privacy rights.”
County Council members will now have to decide whether to spend more money on an appeal.
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