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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Zeeck Hammers Soter Decision

Tacoma News-Tribune executive editor David Zeeck writes this column about the recent Soter ruling. Some especially good parts:

"If a public controversy erupts and you’re a politician or bureaucrat who wants to investigate the matter but hide the results? Hire a lawyer to do it. That way, the court ruled, it’s not a public investigation, but rather attorney work product exempt from disclosure."

"In this new case, the Supreme Court said it’s now OK for local or state jurisdictions to take a public records request immediately to Superior Court to ask if a particular record is subject to public disclosure. That sounds innocent, but it will have pernicious results. The court’s new ruling means the requester will always pay to fight the government, even when the citizen’s claim is legitimate. This government-initiated lawsuit, particularly in the hands of an agency bent on hiding even obvious public records, means a requester will have to spend thousands of dollars (or even tens of thousands) just to get the right to copy documents."