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News-Miner dismissed from Miller lawsuit

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Posted: Saturday, April 28, 2012 11:41 pm | Updated: 1:49 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — A Superior Court judge has dismissed the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner from an ongoing lawsuit between former U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller, the Fairbanks North Star Borough and former Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker.

The dismissal, which was approved by Judge Stephanie E. Joannides last week, removed the News-Miner from a lawsuit it helped launch in October 2010. Along with other media organizations, the News-Miner sued the borough for a wider release of Miller’s personnel records during his tenure as a part-time borough attorney.

That lawsuit was successful, but has lingered for another 18 months while veering off in a new direction.

Miller, who was an intervening party in the original lawsuit, has added inquiries about whether the borough and Whitaker improperly leaked information from his personnel file. The media plaintiffs, which also include the Alaska Dispatch website and the Anchorage Daily News, are no longer at the center of the dispute.

“The News-Miner really didn’t have a dog in the fight anymore,” said attorney Cory Borgeson, who represented the newspaper in the lawsuit. “You got the records.”

As a condition of being released from the lawsuit, the News-Miner agreed not to pursue attorney fees from Miller. Both parties also agreed not to revisit any claims against each other in the future.

The News-Miner’s status as a party in the lawsuit provided unusual access for a media organization, including the ability to cover Miller’s depositions of a handful of borough employees and media officials in January and February.

Now that the newspaper is dismissed as a party, that access to behind-the-scenes elements of the lawsuit will no longer be available.

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.

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