Utah AG fights newspaper over letter's release

Utah AG fights newspaper over letter's release

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he'll appeal a ruling ordering him to release a letter in which he complained about the U.S. attorney for Utah, Brett Tolman.

"The U.S. attorney wants us to appeal, so we'll appeal it," Shurtleff said.

Earlier this year, Shurtleff sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in which he also made some kind of recommendation. Shurtleff and his staff have talked in generalities about the letter but have refused to release copies to The Salt Lake Tribune.

The newspaper appealed Shurtleff's denial to the State Records Committee, which on Thursday ordered Shurtleff to release the letter.

Utah law allows Shurtleff to appeal the case by filing a lawsuit in state court. The Tribune would have to respond.

Michael O'Brien, a lawyer for The Tribune, said the newspaper is "committed to making the letter public."

In a statement, he criticized Shurtleff and Tolman for being "willing to waste taxpayer time and money" to fight a case the Records Committee ruled on.

"It is certainly ironic that Mr. Shurtleff and Mr. Tolman seem to have no trouble cooperating to deny access to a public record documenting their past failures to cooperate with each other in doing their jobs," O'Brien said.

Shurtleff has said disclosing the letter would invade Tolman's privacy. He also has argued the need to keep correspondence confidential because they often cooperate on investigations and prosecutions.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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