The state Supreme Court has ruled that public officials and public employees can keep their personal e-mails private.
The court ruled 4-1 Thursday that none of the 13 e-mails between former Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard and Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship are public records. The Associated Press had sued to gain access to the correspondence last year, when Massey had several cases pending before the high court.
Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom ruled that five of the e-mails were public, but that eight were not. Bloom reasoned that the five e-mails were public records because they touched on Maynard's ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Democratic primary, in which he ran against two of the justices now sitting on the court. The five e-mails were released after that ruling.
But the Supreme Court ruled that Bloom was wrong to release those e-mails, and sent the case back to his court. Justice Margaret Workman was the lone dissenter.