Lawsuit of attrition: SN&R’s court date against Kevin Johnson delayed again—but for good reason

Newspaper receives additional emails, documents from mayor’s OMKJ account

SN&R’s legal battle with Mayor Kevin Johnson over whether the city should release his National Conference of Black Mayors-related emails was postponed on June 2, when the judge issued a motion to request an “in-camera” review of of the remaining contested emails and attachments.

The mayor’s lawyers at Ballard Spahr LLP were ordered to produce the documents so that Judge Christopher Krueger may review them in private prior to the hearing, rescheduled for July 8.

It’s the latest chapter in a story that stretches back more than a year.

Just one day before the last scheduled hearing, in April, Krueger issued a statement declaring that both sides had failed to make their cases about whether the remaining contested 158 emails and attachments (out of the original 400-plus documents) should remain private. The judge ordered both parties to further “meet and confer” on whether certain emails are protected.

SN&R’s lawyers did so; meanwhile, Johnson’s lawyers revised the privilege log to indicate that several of the emails had been forwarded to Ballard Spahr attorneys—and were thus protected. In the same statement, Johnson’s lawyers also marked 13 contested emails as exempt from client-attorney privilege.

Those documents, available to read on SN&R’s Page Burner blog, largely contain meeting minutes and documentation in the 2013 lawsuit that Johnson and the NCBM’s Special Task Force of the Board of Directors filed against Executive Director Vanessa Williams and East Orange, N.J., Mayor Bob Bowser.

There is some evidence, however, of early internal discord over Johnson’s role with the NCBM, including an exchange in which Bowser complains that Johnson has blown him off: “For the record, I tried to call Kevin and speak with him several times and he would not return my call.”