State auditor asks federal court to release MDMR records

Staff and wire reportsDecember 5, 2013 

GULFPORT -- Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering asked a federal court on Thursday to authorize the release of Mississippi Department of Marine Resources records that are being sought by a Gulf Coast newspaper.

Pickering's motion, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, is in response to an order by Harrison County Chancery Judge Jennifer Schloegel.

Gulf Publishing and the Sun Herald newspaper have been fighting Pickering for the records. On Wednesday, Schloegel ordered the documents produced by Monday. She had issued a similar order in October.

Pickering had argued that a federal subpoena prevented his releasing documents seized from MDMR during a corruption investigation. Schloegel disagreed, saying the records were created by the agency, not as investigative reports.

Pickering's motion Thursday also said he would like guidance from the federal court because the records had been used for a federal grand jury.

The Sun Herald sued Pickering for access to records that his office had seized from the MDMR as part of an ongoing state and federal investigation of the agency.

Schloegel will hear more arguments on the issue Friday.

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