Judge orders public safety boss to talk in Easley case

July 8, 2010 12:14:03 PM PDT
A judge has ordered Secretary of the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety Reuben Young to give a deposition in a lawsuit filed by several media organizations over emails related to the administration of former Governor Mike Easley.

Lawyers want to ask Young - who served as Easley's chief legal advisor - what he knows about claims that emails related to public business were ordered destroyed while Easley was in office.

In 2008, media organizations sued Easley and four top aides for access to messages to and from Easley's office after spokeswoman Debbie Crane claimed the Governor's office told public information officers to routinely delete emails. She was later fired.

By law, emails about public business are public record.

Depositions given to ABC11 earlier this year by the John Locke Foundation - one of the parties to the lawsuit - showed Easley used a secret email account with a clandestine address - the name of fictional private investigator Nick Danger spelled backwards.

Sherri Johnson, a former Easley communications director, said the governor had the email account that he used for state business.

The email address, '"kcinregnad," was the reverse of the name of a fictional detective dreamed up by a comedy troupe in the 1960s. The idea apparently had something to do with a learning disability. Easley has been rumored for years to have dyslexia.

In her deposition, Cari Boyce, a former communications director for Easley, said the governor was the only state official she knew of that used a private email address to conduct state business.

Easley officials also testified they were instructed to use the phone for sensitive issues rather than email so there would be no record.

The state has sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but Judge Howard Manning said he first wanted to hear all the depositions.

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