If you live in Central Iowa and have been following the news this past week, the former superintendent of the Des Moines Public Schools, Nancy Sebring, has been in some hot water for sending sexually explicit emails from her school district email account. The school district produced the emails pursuant to public records requests from the Omaha World Herald and the Des Moines Register. Ms. Sebring has filed a Petition in Iowa District Court seeking, in part, injunctive relief.
Injunctive relief is essentially getting the Court to command or prohibit the doing of certain acts, in this case, getting the school district to stop providing emails without giving Ms. Sebring the opportunity to examine the open records request. Generally, injunctive relief is available only when there is no adequate remedy at law, and the Court must act to avoid irreparable harm. Petitioners can seek temporary and permanent injunctions. A temporary injunction commands or prohibits the doing of certain acts that, if carried out while the parties prepare to argue the merits of a permanent injunction, would render the permanent injunction useless. In that case, the Petitioner would still have to eventually secure permanent injunctive relief from the Court.
Of course, in the Sebring case, the school district argues that it must provide the emails subject to open records requests, so the Court will have to balance between the importance of making the emails public and the potential damage that would be suffered by Ms. Sebring.