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Thursday, November 15, 2007

HUGE VICTORY: Lindeman Decision by Supreme Court

Today was a great day for open government in Washington State.

The Washington State Supreme Court held 7-2 today that a videotape recording on a school bus showing an altercation between students must be disclosed. The parents of one of the students requested the recording presumably to determine if the other student was appropriately disciplined. The school district refused to provide the tape arguing that it was a record in a "student file" (huh?) and was "personal information" (double huh?).

The majority decision is here, a concurring opinion which is slightly more pro-openness than the majority decision is here, and the partial concurrence/dissent opinion which is essentially against disclosure is here.

The Supreme Court justices finding in favor of disclosure are:
  • Chief Justice Gerry Alexander
  • Justice Susan Owens (opinion author)
  • Justice Charles Johnson
  • Justice Bobbe Bridge
  • Justice Richard Sanders
  • Justice Tom Chambers
  • Justice James Johnson

The Supreme Court justices essentially finding against disclosure are:

  • Justice Mary Fairhurst
  • Justice Barbara Madsen

Note: Allied Law Group's Michele Earl-Hubbard argued as an amicus curiae (Latin for "friend of the court") for the records requestor and part of her argument was quoted with approval by the majority opinion.