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Friday, September 30, 2011

News Stories on Big Neighborhood Alliance Court Victory

The Seattle Times writes this story.

NOTE: The Seattle Times story quotes Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group, who filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the case on behalf of the records requestor.

The Spokesman-Review writes this.

The Bellingham Herald writes this.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neighborhood Alliance: Big Win for Open Gov't

The state Supreme Court decided the Neighborhood Alliance case today. We're still digesting the full meaning of the case, but it's good.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sargent v. Seattle Police Dep't: New PRA Case

A pretty significant Public Records Act case was decided by the Court of Appeals.

NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group was co-counsel for the requestor.

Here is how the court summarized the holding:

This case is brought under the Public Records Act (PRA), chapter 42.56 RCW. The chief issue is whether a request for public records has indefinite effect, such that after an agency has responded to a request, it must monitor the status of all records within the request and disclose any that later become subject to disclosure. We must also decide whether the categorical exemption for records of an open and active law enforcement investigation terminated at the point of the last witness interview; whether the open and active investigation exemption applies to internal police disciplinary records; whether certain redactions to the disclosures
made here were justified; and what penalties and fees are appropriate.

We hold that there is no standing request under the PRA. We also hold the
statutory exemption for records of an open and active law enforcement investigation
does not end with the final witness interview; the open and active exemption applies
to police disciplinary investigation records; certain redactions from the records were
not justified; the statutory maximum penalty is not appropriate where there is no
showing of gross negligence, bad faith, or other improper conduct; and Sargent’s fees
were improperly limited.

We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

KOMO TV Sues Seattle Police Department Over Access to Dash Cam Video

Bravo, KOMO.

This is exactly what news organizations need to do. More often. The government agencies withholding public records know that you don't sue very much. They count on it.

Good for you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Bad News from the "Open Gov't" Obama Administration

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has taken down a public database of problem physicians nationwide. The database had been available since 1986.

Hat tip to a friend of og-blog for sending this story to us.

Monday, September 12, 2011

State Auditor Brian Sonntag to Retire after 2012

Wow. The open government community is losing a very, very serious ally.

Enjoy your retirement, Brian. You've earned it.

Wash. Coalition for Open Gov't Award Goes to Sen. Honeyford

The Washington Coalition for Open Government announced Sen. Jim Honeyford received a Key Award this year. Congratulations.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Court Rules on Electronic Records Issue

The Mitchell decision came out today. Here is the court's synopsis of the case:

Kevin Mitchell made a Public Records Act (PRA) request to the
Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and asked for the requested records to be
disclosed electronically. The DOC responded that it would not disclose the records electronically
because redactions would be necessary to protect information that was exempt from disclosure.
Mitchell filed suit claiming that the agency (1) improperly denied access to records without
providing an exemption statement, and (2) was required to disclose the records electronically.
The trial court ruled in favor of the DOC on both claims. We reverse and remand to the trial
court on Mitchell’s first claim, holding that the DOC violated the PRA by failing to provide an
exemption statement with its response denying access to the records in part. We affirm on
Mitchell’s second claim, holding that the DOC was not required to disclose the records
electronically. We award attorney fees on appeal to Mitchell for that portion attributable to theclaim on which he prevailed.