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N.C. Newspapers Sue Governor Easley

April 22, 2008

N.C. Newspapers Sue Governor Easley

Raleigh Chronicle, April 14, 2008

North Carolina Governor Mike Easley found himself in some hot water last week when several media outlets sued the official, claiming that his administration told state employees to delete e-mails daily, contrary to the state’s public records policy. The suit, filed April 14, named the Raleigh News & Observer, Associated Press and the NC Press Association, among others, as plaintiffs. The media companies are seeking an injunction against Easley and his staff to end any policy that is “in violation of the public records law.” The suit also seeks an order to require state officials to attempt to retrieve any emails or other records that were deleted in violation of the law.

Easley and his staff have come under fire recently for allegedly destroying emails and other documents considered to be public records. Some state agencies, including the Dept. of Transportation, have stated email retention policies that appear to be in direct violation of state records retention laws. According to WRAL-TV, Easley has appointed a committee to review state policies for handling e-mails and text messages but noted that he trusts state employees to delete only frivolous e-mails. Easley also stated that his office receives about 900,000 e-mails per weekday and retention of all e-mails would be cost prohibitive and time-consuming. The debate over e-mail retention is one we’ve been seeing a lot of recently and situations like the one in North Carolina bring to the forefront the need for all organizations, public and private, to have a comprehensive and well-defined e-mail retention policy.

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