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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yakima Herald Case is Out

Today the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a records requestor, the Yakima Herald-Republic, in a case. Here is the conclusion to the opinion:

We reaffirm long standing case law and hold that the documents prepared
by court personnel in connection with court cases and maintained by the court are
judicial documents governed by GR 15. Further, we hold that such documents,
when transferred to nonjudicial county entities, are governed by the PRA unless
they are subject to an additional protective order. We also hold that a trial court
has jurisdiction to consider a motion to unseal court documents and is not required
to seek permission from an appellate court pursuant to RAP 7.2 when the sealing
order will not impact a separate decision on appeal, and that a limited intervention
by a third party in a criminal case is a proper procedure after trial has ended. In the
interests of judicial economy, we remand to the trial court to determine whether
continued sealing of these financial documents is proper pursuant to GR 15(e),
given the current posture of the criminal case.

With regard to documents held by nonjudicial branch agencies, we reverse
the trial court and remand for the county to comply with the PRA consistent with
this opinion. Finally, we award costs and reasonable attorney fees to the Herald-Republic but deny daily penalties as premature.