- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Des Moines Register has filed two lawsuits against state officials in an effort to obtain records in two cases: An investigation into the mistreatment of youths at a former juvenile home and the stun-gun related death of a man in the custody of Worth County sheriff’s deputies.

The newspaper reported (https://dmreg.co/1gN3d0i) Saturday that it filed the lawsuits Friday in Polk County District Court.

One was filed against the Iowa Public Information Board, which has denied the newspaper’s request for a video said to show a state worker restraining a 17-year-old girl at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo on Nov. 4, 2012.

Officials determined that the worker, who has been fired, slammed the girl’s head against a concrete wall. State officials have argued that the video is a medical record that must be kept confidential.

The second lawsuit was filed against the Iowa Department of Public Safety and Commissioner Larry Noble in an effort to obtain law enforcement reports in the death of Michael Zubrod, 39, of Charles City.

Zubrod was subjected to multiple stun gun jolts while in the custody of Worth County deputies on Sept. 22, 2013. The Register requested the reports after the case was closed and officers were cleared of wrongdoing, but state prosecutors have said that Iowa law lets public records remain secret after an investigation ends.

Keith Luchtel, executive director of the Iowa Public Information Board, told the newspaper Friday that the board stands behind its decision. He had no other comment. He could not be reached Saturday afternoon for comment.

Iowa Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Scott Bright said Saturday he couldn’t comment, because officials received copies of the lawsuit on Friday afternoon and hadn’t yet read or analyzed it.

Des Moines Register President and Publisher Rick Green said the public is harmed from nondisclosure in both cases.

“Iowans expect the Register to be their advocate for public records,” Green said. “We ask the public, lawmakers and community leaders to join us in demanding that Iowa have an open government that demonstrates transparency and accountability to its citizens.”


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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