- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A lawsuit is asking a judge to compel the St. Louis County prosecutor to make public his office’s emails during the months he oversaw grand jury proceedings involving the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 7 by Missouri attorney Jean Maneke, a Missouri Press Association legal consultant specializing in open-records cases, on behalf of The Guardian newspaper’s Jon Swaine. The complaint names Dean Waldemer, records custodian for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch.

The suit alleges Waldemer rejected Swain’s open-records request in December for emails or letters sent or received by McCulloch from Aug. 10, 2014, through November - a timespan that goes from the day after Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson to about a week after the St. Louis County grand jury that McCulloch oversaw declined to indict Wilson.

In scuttling Swaine’s request, Waldemer insisted in a letter that the requested correspondences involving McCulloch were not public records and that the request was “overly broad,” given that “countless emails are received by this office daily,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which also proposes $6,000 in fines against Waldemer, counters that the emails and letters are governmental records publicly accessible under the Missouri Sunshine Law.

Brown’s death and the grand jury’s clearing of Wilson stoked racial unrest in the largely black St. Louis suburb and launched a national “Black Lives Matter” movement. In March, the U.S. Justice Department, while finding no grounds to prosecute Wilson, released a scathing report that said there was widespread racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department and in a municipal court system that often targeted blacks.

A McCulloch spokesman declined to discuss the lawsuit Friday, saying he had not seen the lawsuit and doesn’t discuss pending litigation anyway.

The lawsuit is the latest involving McCulloch’s handling of the grand jury. Four activists are asking the Missouri Court of Appeals to overturn a St. Louis County judge’s ruling last month that tossed out their lawsuit seeking a special prosecutor to review the way McCulloch oversaw the process.

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