Spitzer Joins Lawsuit Over Private Emails About AIG

, New York Law Journal

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A lawsuit over Eliot Spitzer's private emails in which he reportedly discussed American International Group (AIG) and possibly its executives while he was Attorney General now has a new party: Eliot Spitzer.

After the Appellate Division, Third Department, in October said Spitzer should have a voice in a fight between AIG civil fraud defendants and incumbent Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the former AG and governor has been joined as a respondent.

Matter of Smith v. Attorney General, 3670-08, is one of several actions related to a long-running civil case that Spitzer initiated against former AIG executives Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and Howard Smith.

The defendants contend that while in public office, Spitzer used a private email to discuss the case and/or the defendants and theorize that the communications, if revealed, would betray hostility and bias. They submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to Schneiderman demanding production of Spitzer's private emails, but the attorney general said he had neither the authority nor responsibility to obtain personal correspondence from a former government official.

Supreme Court Justice Christopher Cahill (See Profile) held that Spitzer's personal emails, to the extent they discuss public business, are public records and directed Schneiderman's office to retrieve the transmissions (NYLJ, May 18, 2012). Schneiderman appealed to the Third Department, which unanimously held that Spitzer, who was not a named party, has a right to be heard on whether his private emails are public property (NYLJ, Oct. 18, 2013). Papers were filed with the Albany County clerk Jan. 2 joining Spitzer in the matter. Spitzer has said in interviews that there are no private emails responsive to the FOIL.

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