The strange just got stranger yesterday in the Oso mudslide trials when the Washington State attorneys asked the court, by Motion, to illegally seal public juror questionnaires.
Reason claimed is: there’s some personal information contained in the juror questionnaires.
Today the Gold Bar Reporter and Snohomish County Reporter filed a joint ” objection” opposing sealing the entire juror questionnaires because by doing so violates Washington State’s Public Records Act ( RCW 42.56) and our legislature’s intent that broadly favors public disclosure and all exemptions be narrowly tailored to favor disclosure.
Sadly, the Seattle Times, Kiro news, Komo news, King 5 T.V., and Snohomish County Daily Herald have yet to file any objection in this matter.
Our Legislature’s intent was clear when it held “ The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy and to assure that the public interest will be fully protected. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern.” See RCW 42.56.030.
Further our court held ” the PRA reflects a strong public policy favoring the disclosure and production of information, and exemptions are to be narrowly construed. RCW 42.56.030. Moreover, a party opposing the production of public records must establish that production would “clearly not be in the public interest and would substantially and irreparably damage any person, or would substantially and irreparably damage vital governmental functions.” RCW 42.56.540; see Soter v. Cowles Publ’g Co., 162 Wash.2d 716, 756-57, 174 P.3d 60 (2007).
Snohomish County journalists, jointly, objected to sealing juror questionnaires because we cannot see how sealing, completely, juror questionnaires would damage a juror. Furthermore, by doing so violates that Public Records Act.
Snohomish County journalist Anne Block and Brandia Tammu jointly requested that King County Superior Court Judge Rogoff narrowly tailor any redaction to any of the jury questionnaires in this case and adhere to our legislature’s intent which favors disclosure broadly, and narrowly tailors exemptions in favor of the public’s absolutely right to know.
Will corruption prevail in violation of the public’s trust or will King County Superior Court Judge Rogoff adhere to our Legislature’s intent which favor disclosure?