Supreme Court temporarily delays subpoena for Arizona official’s phone records
The Associated Press • Jan 26, 2013 at 12:07 PM
The Associated Press
Show Caption Hide Caption Supreme Court allows Arizona AG to subpoena records from the FBI The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Arizona Attorney General Greg Broglio to subpoena the records of the FBI, which is investigating the police shooting of a black neighbor in his own home.
PHOENIX — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed Arizona’s acting attorney general to ask officials from the nation’s No. 1 law enforcement agency to hand over phone records in a case involving the fatal police shooting of a man in his own home more than two decades ago.
In a 5-3 decision, the justices upheld the subpoenas for phone records as well as email records of the FBI’s Phoenix field office under a provision in Arizona’s open records law that allows for officials to be forced to turn over records that are relevant to an investigation of a state official or employee or that might uncover other criminal wrongdoing.
The FBI asked to be included in the Arizona case and is seeking to be included in the appeals that will determine whether anyone involved in the shooting of Michael O’Neal Brown will face civil and criminal charges.
The subpoena comes in the aftermath of a state Supreme Court decision that rejected Brown’s challenge to the open records law. Brown had sought the records for his lawsuit against the State Department, arguing that the law unfairly targeted him.
The dispute is the latest in a flurry of cases involving the Justice Department’s open records policies. The high court this spring temporarily blocked an attorney general’s disclosure of a sealed FBI investigation involving a New York Times reporter. The Justice Department was appealing that ruling, with the attorney general’s office arguing that the records had been shared with the public.
Justice Department officials have also argued in the Brown case that the open records law doesn’t restrict what the FBI can do with its records.
Brown, who has lived in the same Phoenix neighborhood for more than two decades, was shot to death by a police officer in 1986 as he walked his dog on the edge of his driveway near his home.
Brown’s estate and the police department’s insurer settled a lawsuit with Brown’s family in 2009 for $2.1 million, and the state dropped its lawsuit against the police department in 2010. The city of Phoenix has since paid $1.9 million into a wrongful death trust fund established