BILL REQ. #: S-3404.1
|State of Washington||61st Legislature||2010 Regular Session|
Read first time 01/13/10. Referred to Committee on Government Operations & Elections.
AN ACT Relating to conferences regarding public records requests violations; and reenacting and amending RCW 42.56.550.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1 RCW 42.56.550 and 2005 c 483 s 5 and 2005 c 274 s 288 are
each reenacted and amended to read as follows:
(1) Upon the motion of any person having been denied an opportunity to inspect or copy a public record by an agency, the superior court in the county in which a record is maintained may require the responsible agency to show cause why it has refused to allow inspection or copying of a specific public record or class of records. The burden of proof shall be on the agency to establish that refusal to permit public inspection and copying is in accordance with a statute that exempts or prohibits disclosure in whole or in part of specific information or records.
(2) Upon the motion of any person who believes that an agency has not made a reasonable estimate of the time that the agency requires to respond to a public record request, the superior court in the county in which a record is maintained may require the responsible agency to show that the estimate it provided is reasonable. The burden of proof shall be on the agency to show that the estimate it provided is reasonable.
(3)(a) Prior to filing any court action alleging a violation of this chapter, the requester and agency may first confer in person or by telephone regarding any dispute. For claims filed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, no action should be commenced until fifteen days have elapsed after this conference occurs. The one-year statute of limitation and daily penalties shall be tolled during this fifteen-day period.
(b) The requester or agency filing suit shall include a certification that they have met, or if they have not met, why they have not met. Nothing in this section requires a requester to explain any purpose or reason for requesting the records.
(4) Judicial review of all agency actions taken or challenged under RCW 42.56.030 through 42.56.520 shall be de novo. Courts shall take into account the policy of this chapter that free and open examination of public records is in the public interest, even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others. Courts may examine any record in camera in any proceeding brought under this section. The court may conduct a hearing based solely on affidavits.
(4))) (5) Any person who prevails against an agency in any action
in the courts seeking the right to inspect or copy any public record or
the right to receive a response to a public record request within a
reasonable amount of time shall be awarded all costs, including
reasonable attorney fees, incurred in connection with such legal
action. In addition, it shall be within the discretion of the court to
award such person an amount not less than five dollars and not to
exceed one hundred dollars for each day that he or she was denied the
right to inspect or copy said public record. If a requester or agency
elects to file suit without conducting the conference in good faith
pursuant to subsection (3) of this section, or if the requester or
agency files a lawsuit pursuant to subsection (1) of this section
without waiting the full fifteen days after that conference, the court
shall have the discretion to reduce or eliminate any award for costs,
including daily penalties. In exercising this discretion, the court
may consider the following nonexclusive factors:
(a) Whether the requester had need to obtain the records in less than fifteen days; and
(b) Whether a conference would have been futile.
(5))) (6) For actions under this section against counties, the
venue provisions of RCW 36.01.050 apply.
(6))) (7) Actions under this section must be filed within one
year of the agency's claim of exemption or the last production of a
record on a partial or installment basis.