In Washington State, the citizens are fortunate to have one of the strongest public records laws in the country – the Public Records Act. This act, originally passed as a citizens initiative in 1973, was specifically passed to provide the citizens of Washington oversight over their local, county and state governments. Previously known as the Public Disclosure Act, the Public Records Act is codified as Revised Code of Washington 42.56 et seq. The Act sets forth the guiding principles behind this law: "The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy and to assure that the public interest will be fully protected. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern." The Public Records Act permits agencies to redact (black out) or not disclose certain records based on statutory exemptions. If records are redacted or exempted, the agency must provide the requester an exemption log which provides sufficient information about the record and the claimed exemption so that the requester can determine if they wish to challenge the actions of the agency in not proving the record. The Public Records Act can require a trial court to assess Penalties between 0 and 100 dollars per day when the agency fails to produce records or its claims of an exemption are determined to be unlawful.
The Act also requires that an agency pay reasonable attorneys fees and costs when a court determines the actions of the agency were unlawful. This permits attorneys to assists citizens in obtaining records without requiring retainer payments. Kahrs Law Firm has over ten years experience in the Public Records Act including one published case in the Washington Supreme Court. While there is never any guarantee of success, Kahrs Law Firm guarantees to make its best effort to obtain records for citizens pursuant to the Public Records Act.
Click here for video link: Kahrs Argument in Supreme Court
contact us 2208 NW Market St., Suite 414 Seattle, WA 98107 Phone: 206.264.0643 Fax: 206.237.8555 “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King, Jr. April 16, 1963
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