I accept the court's decision which was an important one to determine privacy rights in e mails between government employees. This appeal was not brought on frivilously, but, rather, to determine whether government employees and supervisors have a constitutional privacy interest in protecting from public disclosure e mails which are intended to be private. The Court has now given us a bright line rule: there is no privacy right in private e mails between government employees. I feel that is unfortunate. Today's decision, while accepted by me, will have a chilling effect on e mail communication about matters employees wish to remain private, but do not otherwise violate any law. A government employee can no longer complain about a co-worker, adverse work conditions, a superivisor, or act as a "whistleblower" without fear of reprisal or that the complaint will become the public's domain. There never has been a county or state policy prohibiting use of e mail for private communication but those policies now ring hollow in light of today's decision. The e mails in this case will be released in an orderly fashion as directed by the court. Unfortunately, these e mails have been the subject of unfair speculation about their nature. These e mails contain nothing obscene or unlawful. They constitute nothing more than innocent sarcasm, bantering, and joking between myself and a subordinate and the type of informal communications that occurs daily in every workplace in America. Unfortunately, some will place unfair speculation on their intent, regardless of content. They contain no distasteful attachments. I would only hope that these are reviewed in proper context and I would be glad to answer any questions about any individual e mail when they are released.
Prosecutor Bill Douglas
D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.