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Gunnarson sued in paper caper

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Salt Lake County District Attorney Neal Gunnarson hasn't seen the last of his woes over dumping copies of an alternative newspaper.

On Friday, Gunnarson - who has acknowledged throwing away a stack of Salt Lake City Weekly papers containing an article critical of him - was sued by one of the free-distribution tabloid's readers.Earlier, a panel of five city prosecutors voted 3-2 against filing criminal charges against Gun-narson over the Aug. 27 incident.

But in her 3rd District Court lawsuit, Renee Cornelisen seeks $50,000 in damages, arguing Gunnarson's action resulted in censorship of her letter to the editor - and violated her constitutional rights to free speech.

"I felt violated by him taking the issue off the shelves," said Cornelisen, 54, a contract technical writer for the firm L3 Communications in Salt Lake City.

Gunnarson's response: "I have already fully apologized, and I would hope that she would also accept that apology."

Cornelisen's letter criticized Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Cor-ra-di-ni. The issue tossed by Gunnarson criticized his decision against prosecuting the mayor for soliciting financial gifts from community leaders.

City Weekly editor Chris Smart said he was surprised but pleased by Cornelisen's suit. The newspaper learned this week that Salt Lake City prosecutor Cheryl Luke will not prosecute a city employee the paper had accused of stealing copies of the same issue.

"We feel somewhat helpless because basically (people) can steal our papers and rest assured they're not going to be prosecuted," Smart said.

The newspaper has not yet decided whether it will file its own civil suit against Gunnarson, he said.