Judge rules for newspaper in mug shot dispute case

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the government to turn over mug shots of criminal defendants to the Detroit Free Press.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan ruled in favor of the newspaper, which sued last year when the U.S. Marshals Service rejected a request for photos of police officers charged with corruption. But Duggan also suspended his ruling Monday to give the government time to appeal.

The Free Press noted that the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Michigan and three other states, said in 1996 that mug shots must be released as public records. Duggan said those decisions must be followed, even if the U.S. Justice Department has won similar cases elsewhere in the country based on privacy concerns.

“The law in this circuit has been clear since 1996,” he said.

The government can go to a higher court if it doesn’t like what the 6th Circuit has ordered, Duggan said.

The Justice Department declined to comment today.

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