Because the sound system is so bad, I can’t be sure what was said in the courtroom of Thomas Meyer Thursday morning.
But I think he ruled that the Sheriff’s Office had waived its right to use an excuse in the Freedom of Information Act that was being advanced to keep The First Electric Newspaper’s Pete Gonigam from getting a copy of the summary of former Sheriff Keith Nygren’s report which exonerated Undersheriff and then GOP primary candidate for Sheriff Andy Zinke for telling a campaign contributor about a DEA investigation.
I did hear Judge Meyer say that “the issue is whether the defendant has waived any of the claims…” Then the Judge’s voice faded away.
Part of his consideration was whether Zinke was acting in his official capacity or on his own behalf.
The Judge said that Zinke was “not acting pursuant to the direction of the Sheriff…that Lt. Zinke did not have explicit authority…” to share the summary with a reporter from the Northwest Herald.
Then, I heard, “Lt. Zinke’s disclosure of the summary of the report waived any exemptions [with regard to the summary].”
So, I guess that means Gonigam is on his way to at least a partial victory, which will mean his attorney, Mary Gardner, will have to paid legal fees for her work on his behalf.
The next question was where could the report summary be located.
Judge Meyer didn’t think he had it.
“I thought I returned it to you,” he said, I think, to those from the State’s Attorney’s Office.
But neither Assistant State’s Attorney Brandy Quance or First Assistant Norm Vinton said their office had it.
I think it was Quance who said that Don Leist, a former Nygren employee, had “testified there was a copy made.”
Gonigam’s attorney pointed out that it had been filed with the Appellate Court.
Vinton said that he would talk to newly-installed Sheriff Bill Prim concerning whether or not the decision should be appealed.
Gardner said her client couldn’t decide whether to appeal until “we’ve actually seen the summary.”
“By the 9th [of January], you’ll probably both know what you’re going to do,” Meyer concluded.
Afterward, Gonigam remarked, “If they can find it.”