JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — On the same day that a Senate Resolution involving the Sunshine lawsuit against Missouri’s Governor was filed, the defense in that same lawsuit filed a motion to dismiss the case.
There was discussion that Gov. Eric Greitens’ defense has actually missed the extended deadline since Case.net was not updated.
In late December, Gov. Eric Greitens was sued for alleged open records violations for his and his staff’s use of Confide — an app that deletes text messages once they have been read and prevents the user from saving, forwarding, or taking screenshots of the messages.
The defense originally had until February 13 to file a response to the plaintiff’s petition but asked for a deadline extension, which was granted. The new deadline of February 16 came and went, with nothing filed on behalf of Greitens, according to Case.net.
As of Tuesday mid-afternoon, Case.net showed no response filing from the defense. In an inquiry to the Cole County Circuit Court Tuesday morning received the response: “As soon as it is filed and we receive it, it is filed on Case.net.” The Missouri Times was told in a follow-up inquiry Tuesday afternoon that Case.net has all the information that was publically available and as an outside party, couldn’t be given any other information.
But by late afternoon Tuesday, Case.net was updated to show that the defense filed on Friday to dismiss the case.
Dowd Bennett, the firm representing the Governor, had no comment regarding the case.
The law firm was approved and appointed by the Attorney General’s office to defend the Governor and his office in the Sansone lawsuit on January 5. Dowd Bennett is representing the Governor’s Office in the open records lawsuit “at no cost.”
Traditionally, the state is represented in lawsuits by the Attorney General unless there is a conflict of interest. Sen. Rob Schaaf filed a resolution on Friday addressing the matter.
The Attorney General should defend the laws and represent the Governor and the Governor’s custodian of records in the Sansone lawsuit, according to Senate Resolution 1343.
“Be It Further Resolved that if the Attorney General believes there is a conflict that prevents his representation of the Governor and his custodian of records in this matter, then the Attorney General should appoint a special assistant attorney general, as has been done previously by past Attorneys General under established procedures, that would have the same powers, privileges, and duties as the Attorney General in such matter,” Schaaf’s resolution states.
“It is the responsibility of the Attorney General, as chief law enforcement officer of the state and especially regarding the Missouri Sunshine Law, to represent the state in a case that could have vital implications on how the Sunshine Law is interpreted in future matters.”
The resolution also states that the Attorney General, by abdicating any role, is allowing private attorneys to represent the state’s interest. Also, there is a potential conflict of interest considering Dowd Bennett is representing Greitens in a private matter.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.