“Information is the currency of democracy,” Thomas Jefferson.
Access to Public Records
The Public Records Act (“PRA”), RCW 42.56, allows private citizens access to agency and governmental records. Subject to some limitations, public institutions are required by law to permit prompt access to records upon request. Many governmental agencies recognize and respect a citizen’s right to prompt access to public records. However, some resist production when the records, if provided, would reveal an abuse of power, improper use of public funds, or would be embarrassing. Access is sometimes denied, curtailed or delayed by agency lawyers’ artful application of a myriad of technical and often confusing legal exemptions. Legitimate requests by citizens sometimes go unanswered or are disputed or delayed until they are abandoned or until the one-year limitation period for enforcement of the PRA has passed.
You have a right to know what your public officials are doing and how they are spending taxpayer money. And you can find out without drawing undue attention to yourself or your business. The PRA permits citizens to make requests anonymously through their attorney. We are available to assist in drafting records requests in ways to avoid challenge by the agency, evaluate the legitimacy and validity of agency responses to and denials of requests, and are prepared to take legal action on your behalf to obtain wrongfully withheld records via court order.
Open Public Meeting Act
The Open Public Meetings Act, RCW 42.30, requires the decision making bodies of local governments and state agencies to conduct meetings in the open, provide advance notice of those meetings, and follow specific protocols when making agency decisions. We are here to assist in guarding against any infringement on the public’s right of access to meetings by government bodies such as city councils, school boards and other agencies. You have the right to hear and be heard when your elected officials are making important decisions, and we can help you exercise that right.