Public records are an important tool for individuals to find out more information about the government. “People in an open society do not demand infallibility from their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they are prohibited from observing.” Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 US 555, 572 (1980). By providing a way for individuals to observe the governments, public records help legitimize the government. But they also can be a powerful tool that individuals can use to check governmental abuse.
“[T]he right to receive information is the fundamental counterpart of the right of free speech.” Fritz v. Gorton, 83 Wn.2d 275, 296 (Wash. 1974).
Public records have a long history at common law and it is only relatively recently legislative bodies have codified them into law. “It is clear that the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 US 589, 597 (1978).
Washingtonians are primarily affected by three public records laws:
- Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (federal governmental agencies)
- Public Records Act (most Washington State and city governmental agencies)
- Legislative Records Act (Washington State Legislature)
I will advocate for your right to public records. I can assist you in making requests to obtain government records and provide legal assistance in pursuing administrative appeals and related litigation. Also, I will advocate for you both inside and outside of court.
Remember, an initial consultation is always FREE.