A Dallas County judge ruled Thursday attorneys for the former Fort Worth police chief will be able to review city documents and question city officials as part of ongoing litigation.
Former chief Joel Fitzgerald is suing the city, claiming he was fired because he discovered the city fabricated compliance with federal regulations. His attorney, Steve Kennedy told us they specifically wanted the city to hand over digital data such as emails, text messages and instant messages.
Kennedy said that evidence was important and though it may not necessarily "make or break" their case, his intent was to figure out what the city knew and when.
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Under Associate Judge Monica Purdy's ruling, the number of documents would be limited along with the scope of questioning.
"This is a good result for Dr. Fitzgerald and the people of Fort Worth in general. The City's efforts to hide documents and prevent discovery failed. We will now get access to many of the documents that the City refused to produce," Kennedy said in a statement. "Very soon, we will have the opportunity to cross-examine city officials regarding those documents and the decisions made during the hours leading to Dr. Fitzgerald's termination. It is a victory for everyone who supports transparency in government and access to open records."
In response, the city of Fort Worth released this statement on Thursday afternoon:
"After a hearing on August 28th that involved competing motions filed by the Plaintiff and the City, Associate Judge Monica Purdy signed an Order that granted, in part, and denied, in part, the relief that the parties were seeking. The City is reviewing Judge Purdy's Order and will soon decide whether to appeal portions of the Order to the Presiding District Court Judge, Gena Slaughter. The City will address the legal and factual matters raised by Mr. Fitzgerald and his attorney through the court filings and the court process. The City disagrees with the allegations as set forth by Mr. Fitzgerald, is fully prepared to defend itself against this lawsuit, and stands behind the decision to terminate Mr. Fitzgerald's employment. The City continues to maintain that it acted appropriately within the bounds of the law."
A hearing is set for Sept. 24.