Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
Access to judicial branch administrative records: Proposed court rule ready for public commentsJune 17, 2011
OLYMPIA — A proposed new court rule governing public access to judicial branch administrative records has been released for public input by the Washington State Supreme Court. The rule presumes open access to judicial administrative records, within the standards and guidelines of the rule.
Comments on the proposed rule must be received no later than November 30, 2011.
The rule was developed to fill a gap in existing state laws and court rules, which do not address public access to judicial branch administrative records. The Washington State Public Records Act does not apply to judicial branch records, and General Court Rule 31 addresses only records pertaining to court proceedings. Because they belong to a separate branch of government, Washington courts and judicial branch agencies are not governed by the Legislature but by the state Supreme Court, which adopts “court rules” to regulate the operations of the courts.
In 2010, the Board for Judicial Administration (BJA) created the Public Records Work Group, which includes members both from within the judicial branch and from outside groups interested in public access to judicial records. The Work Group recommended new standards and procedures for providing this access and creating the proposed “General Court Rule (GR) 31A – Access to Administrative Records.”
The proposed rule defines the types of records it pertains to, procedures for obtaining access to the records, sanctions on courts or agencies for non-compliance, exemptions, creation of best practices, tools for handling particularly burdensome requests and an effective date that would give courts and judicial agencies time to train staff and develop best practices.
To read the proposed rule, go to http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_rules/ and click “Proposed Rules Published for Comments,” then click the June 2011 rules, or go directly to http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_rules/?fa=court_rules.proposedRuleDisplay&ruleId=258 .
Unless otherwise noted, all comments should be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. mail or Internet e-mail. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, WA 98504-0929, or Camilla.Faulk@courts.wa.gov. Comments submitted by e-mail may not exceed 1500 words.
CONTACT: Communications Officer Lorrie Thompson, (360) 705-5347.
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