GR 12.4 - Washington State Bar Association Access to RecordsComments for GR 12.4 must be received no later than April 30, 2012.
Suggested New Rule
Submitted by the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association
Purpose: The Washington State Public Records Act (“PRA”) (Chapter 42.56 RCW) does not apply to judicial records. See City of Federal Way v. Koenig, 167 Wn.2d 341, 217 P.3d 1172 (2009). In addition, the Washington State Bar Association is not a state agency but rather is an extension or arm of the judiciary. General Rule 31, which addresses public access to “court records,” does not apply to the WSBA or the WSBA’s records; it applies only to court case files and related documents about judicial proceedings.
The WSBA believes that public access to its records is most properly addressed by court rule. The Board for Judicial Administration (BJA) has drafted a new proposed GR 31A, which covers public access to the judiciary’s administrative documents; however, because the WSBA performs regulatory, licensing, and disciplinary functions which are inextricably intertwined, the WSBA is unique and would not easily fit within the parameters of rules intended to apply to entities performing judicial functions. The WSBA therefore coordinated with the BJA to draft its own proposed rule.
The proposed rule defines “bar records” and takes into account the confidentiality requirements imposed by the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct, the Admission to Practice Rules, and other court rules and statutes. The proposed rule also includes specific exemptions (many of which are included in the WSBA’s current bylaws), as well as provisions for redaction and provision of statistical information. Finally, the rule also provides that denials may be reviewed by the Chief Justice of the Washington Supreme Court.
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