Washington State Supreme Court Withdraws Yousoufian Opinion

Update 7/5

What does this mean for other PRA cases?  If you have a case at the penalty stage, I'd probably seek a stay because unless the Court adopts the identical test,  if you do it now you'll just have to do it again later.

Original Post

The Washington State Supreme Court has withdrawn its January Opinion in the long-running Yousoufian v. Office of Ron Sims case.  In that Opinion, the Supreme Court had ruled that the $124,000 Public Records Act penalty award against King County was too small.  The Opinion adopted 16 factors trial courts should use to set penalty amounts.  For more details on the Opinion, see this MRSC article.

King County had moved to have the Opinion withdrawn after it was revealed that the Opinion author, Justice Richard Sanders, had a pending appeal in a Public Records Act case, where he was relying on his Yousoufian Opinion to argue that his judgment against the State should be increased.  In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court holding in Caperton v. Massey that a West Virginia Supreme Court Justice's decision not to recuse himself violated due process, this result is not surprising. 

Here is an article in the Seattle Times on the Supreme Court's ruling.  Here is a post on the Supreme Court Blog about the order. 

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Julie - June 16, 2009 12:25 PM

What impact do you think this has on public disclosure?

Mia Rencontre - June 22, 2009 7:37 AM

OK, so a penalty of $15 per day was considered to be too small. What would in this case be a more appropriate figure? I have read the 16 steps (summarized in just 10) but have no insight on the matter to calculate it myself.

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