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November 22, 2017

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Judge issues emergency order in Switch lawsuit


John Locher / AP

In this Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, photo, a car drives by a Switch data center in Las Vegas.

A federal judge has issued an emergency order to preserve potential evidence in data company Switch’s lawsuit against the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada and NV Energy.

Switch sued NV Energy and its regulator last week for $30 million and permission to purchase electricity without the utility.

The lawsuit claims the PUC violated Switch’s 14th Amendment rights when it denied the company’s application last year to cut ties with NV Energy and buy electricity on the open market. It alleges the commission’s former general counsel, Carolyn Tanner, tainted the proceedings by using the pseudonym “DixieRaeSparx” to post on social media and comment on several news websites about issues before the PUC.

After this activity was reported in June, Tanner resigned from the PUC and deactivated her Twitter account.

At the request of Switch, a U.S. District Court judge issued an emergency order Monday requiring Tanner to immediately reactivate her Twitter account and WordPress blog “to ensure the evidence of conduct previously posted on the (accounts) is not deleted per any deactivation or destruction policy.”

The worry is that Twitter no longer has Tanner’s records.

Twitter preserves records for 30 days after an account deactivation, unless a user or court requests, within the window, that they be preserved for longer.

The court also ordered NV Energy and the PUC to refrain from destroying any evidence associated with Tanner’s social media accounts or WordPress blog. The court has set a hearing on the issue for next week.

Switch also has a pending records request with the PUC under the Nevada Open Records Act. The court said the records statute largely requires the commission to preserve Tanner’s public postings about Switch.

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