Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
February 6th: Supreme Court Public Hearing Regarding Proposed Rule on Access to Judicial Administrative RecordsJanuary 26, 2012
The Washington Supreme Court will hold a public hearing on February 6th at 9:30 a.m. on a proposed new court rule governing public access to judicial branch administrative records.
The public hearing will occur in the Supreme Court in Olympia and will be broadcast online by TVW, Washington’s Public Affairs station.
The proposed rule (GR31A) presumes open access to judicial administrative records, within standards and guidelines, and follows a four-month written comment period on the proposed rule that ended November 30, 2011.
The public hearing will begin with remarks on the proposed new rule from Court of Appeals Division I Judge Marlin Appelwick, who chaired the workgroup which proposed the rule and Kristal Witala of DSHS who served on the workgroup; Attorney Michael Killeen representing Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington; Toby Nixon, President of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and Judge Michael Lambo representing the District and Municipal Court Judges Association.
Following opening remarks, members of the public are welcome to testify by signing up on the day of the event. Testimony will be limited to three minutes per person.
The rule was developed by the Board for Judicial Administration’s Public Records Work Group, 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 governed by the state Supreme Court, which adopts “court rules” to regulate the operations of the courts.
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 and written comments received during the comment period, go to 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.
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Contacts: Nan Sullins, Administrative Office of the Courts, 360-357-2124.
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