Washington state Supreme Court

Over 20 years ago, the Washington State Supreme Court held in Nast v. Michels, 107 Wn.2d 300 (1986 ) that the State’s Public Records Act (PRA) does not apply to court case files because the judiciary is not included in the PRA’s definition of a State “agency.” On October 15, 2009 , the Supreme Court reaffirmed its Nast holding in City of Federal Way v. Koenig, 2009 WL 3298055. 

The Koenig case began in February 2008.  David Koenig, a regular claimant against Washington local governments, requested from the Federal Way Municipal Court all public records related to the resignation of Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Colleen Hartl .  His request  included  correspondence to and from Presiding Judge Michael Morgan. The City of Federal Way provided 183 pages of documents .  But, citing Nast, the City refused to provide the requested correspondence on the basis that the municipal court was not subject to the PRA.  Koenig argued that Nast was wrongly decided and persisted in pursuing his requests.


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Last week, the Olympian reported that the Washington State Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in the Yakima Herald-Republic’s legal battle over sealed records in a 2005 double homicide. The newspaper is appealing a July 2008 lower court ruling that defense attorney billing records detailing more than $1.5 million in fees and expenses are not

On Tuesday, June 9, the Chair of Foster Pepper’s Public Disclosure Team and editor of this blog, Ramsey Ramerman, will be arguing two cases on behalf of the City of Federal Way in the Washington State Supreme Court.  Here are the issue statements from the Supreme Court’s website:

City of Federal Way v. Koenig:

Open Government—Public Disclosure—“Local Agency”—What Constitutes—Municipal Court

Whether the Federal Way Municipal Court is a “local agency” subject to the disclosure requirements of the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW.


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