Arizona Court of Appeals Hears Arguments in Legal Battle Over Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's Security-Detail Logs
The Arizona Court of Appeal is weighing whether to overturn a ruling that protected from public release Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's security-detail log.
It's unknown when the judges who heard arguments in the case on Tuesday will make their ruling.
The log maintained by Gordon's security detail -- sworn Phoenix police officers who are assigned to guard the mayor -- reportedly includes information about unscheduled stops Gordon made during the course of his day, including details about who traveled with him and where he was picked up and dropped off.
During that time, Gordon was involved with now ex-girlfriend, Elissa Mullany.
Phoenix doesn't dispute that the logs are a public record, but maintains that because they contain confidential, security-related and private information, they should not be released.
The appellate court is reviewing the appeal by Judicial Watch, a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank, after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea ruled in November that the logs of the mayor's movements could be kept secret.
Judicial Watch appealed, stating that the trail court judge erred when he essentially ruled that once you eliminate from the security logs the confidential and security-related matters, all that remains are the public events -- which are included in the public calendar which the city already released.
Judicial Watch argues that it's "entirely speculative" to say that none of the remaining information within the 600 pages of security detail logs can be separated, redacted and disclosed. The organization asks that the remainder of the logs redacted and released. And they want the city to provide an index explaining why the redacted parts are protected information.
Assistant Phoenix Attorney Sandra Hunter argued, in part, that going through all the records would cause "substantial injury" to the city.
In response to Judicial Watch's appeal, Phoenix writes that "the public body may not die if the City must ask its current and former Security Detail members, and its working Mayor, to pore through years of the Detail's Worksheets and identify, redact, and produce those entries which are purely personal to the Mayor, but it will suffer substantial injury to its time, resources, right to privacy and future willing to participate in the electoral process. Such substantial injury is not justified by mere curiosity into a mayor's miscellaneous personal acts."
The city also says that it has provided specific harms that would be cause by the release of the logs, including releasing the information would harm the ability of the security detail to protect the mayor from embarrassment, harm his personal privacy and would harm the willingness of people in the future to seek and hold political office.
They say that releasing the information would drive a wedge between the mayor and those charged with protecting his life.
Judicial Watch, which is open to a "possible narrowing of the time frame of the request," says that the city's points, such as harming people's willingness to participate in future political processes, are moot because the security detail has stopped maintaining detailed records of the mayor's movements.
And, really, the arguments about security and confidentiality are also moot. Never mind that the records at the center of this legal battle are several years old, but Gordon, who has already served the maximum two four-year terms, is leaving office on January 3.
Greg Stanton, who won handily in the November runoff election against Wes Gullett, will be sworn in as Phoenix's next mayor.
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