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Sunshine Law case against St. Louis County executive's office could be headed for trial

Sunshine Law case against St. Louis County executive's office could be headed for trial

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Steve Stenger and Josh Hawley

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, left, and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley.

CLAYTON — An Oct. 13 trial date has been set in a lawsuit by the Missouri attorney general that accuses the St. Louis County executive’s office of repeated violations of the state’s open records law.

The suit was filed in St. Louis Circuit Court in January 2018 by then-Attorney General Josh Hawley against then-County Executive Steve Stenger. It continues on after Hawley’s election to U.S. Senate and Stenger’s prison sentence in a federal pay-to-play case.

Hawley alleged that Stenger’s staff violated the law by failing to provide timely responses to record requests, provide access to public records and disclose the name of the records custodian. Post-Dispatch stories documented several instances when Stenger’s staff delayed responses to the newspaper’s requests for access.

Lawyers for the two sides have been working toward a settlement for several months and were scheduled to check in with Judge Kristine Kerr again on March 4.

A lawyer for the Missouri Press Association has said it's important for Hawley's successor, Eric Schmitt, to pursue the case against the administration of Stenger's successor, Sam Page, because a judgment would bring more attention to public officials' responsibility to follow the Sunshine Law.

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