Back to 2020 Supplement to Public Records Act Deskbook: Washington's Public Disclosure and Open Public Meetings Laws
2020 Supplement to Public Records Act Deskbook: Washington's Public Disclosure and Open Public Meetings Laws

2020 Supplement to Public Records Act Deskbook: Washington's Public Disclosure and Open Public Meetings Laws


This 2020 supplement updates the 2014 second edition to provide comprehensive coverage of Washington's Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW (the PRA), as well as related areas of public access to government records and proceedings. Its focus is on the law applicable to making, responding to, and litigating PRA requests.

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Back to 2020 Supplement to Public Records Act Deskbook: Washington's Public Disclosure and Open Public Meetings Laws

Please note that because the WSBA offices are currently closed, delivery of deskbook orders will be delayed.


Ramsey Ramerman, assistant city attorney, City of Everet
Eric M. Stahl, partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle

Who should buy this supplement? Public Records Officers, city managers, state and local government employees and officials, and others who make or are charged with responding to requests under the Public Records Act.

This 2020 Supplement provides in-depth coverage of significant Washington appellate court opinions issued since the 2014 second edition addressing:

  • The definition of a “public record”;
  • Procedure under the PRA, including application of the injunction standard under RCW 42.56.540, interpretation of the PRA’s statute of limitations, and 2017 statutory amendments to address “bot” requests and requests for “all records”;
  • Exemptions, including the interaction between the PRA and privacy protections under the Washington Constitution, how the “common interest” doctrine impacts the work product exemption, access to employee misconduct records, retroactive application of newly enacted exemptions to pending PRA requests, and detailed rules adopted by the legislature governing police “body cams” that include specific privacy protections and redaction and other procedural provisions.
  • PRA penalties, including when the daily penalty can be issued per page and how courts can use variable-rate penalties, an extreme example in which reliance on bad legal advice can amount to bad faith, and how a court may properly consider the size of an agency as a basis for reducing a penalty award.
  • Open Public Meetings Act, including guidance on “serial meetings” and when a committee is subject to the OPMA, and affirmation that grounds for executive session, like PRA exemptions, should be narrowly construed.

The Public Records Act Deskbook: Washington’s Public Disclosure and Open Public Meetings Laws is a joint effort by practitioners representing both requestors and agencies. To provide an accurate and balanced perspective, every chapter that was written by a public agency practitioner was edited by someone who primarily represents records requestors, and vice-versa; and a number of chapters have been co-written by agency and requestor authors. One of the Editors-in-Chief (Eric M. Stahl) is an attorney who primarily represents news requestors and the other (Ramsey Ramerman) is one who represents agencies.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction (Ramsey Ramerman†; Eric M. Stahl†)
Chapter 2. The Public Records Act: Genesis and Guiding Spirit (Hon. C. Kenneth Grosse)
Chapter 3. Judicial Perspectives on Open Courtsand Court Records (Justice Gerry Alexander (ret.)
Chapter 4. The Scope of the Public Records Act:What is an “Agency” and a “Public Record”? (Matthew J. Segal†)
Chapter 5. How to Make Public Records Requests (Steven J. Dixson†; Denise Vaughan†; Casey M. Bruner*)
Chapter 6. How Agencies Should Respond to Public Records Requests (Ramsey Ramerman†; Amy Cleveland; Kelli Williams†; Alice M. Bush; Denise Vaughan†)
Chapter 7. Statutory Construction (Katherine A. George†)
Chapter 8. Privacy (Michele L. Earl-Hubbard; Hannah Sells Marcley*)
Chapter 9. Investigative, Law Enforcement, and Security Records (Duane M. Swinton; Gary T. Smith; Casey M. Bruner*)
Chapter 10. Personnel Records of Public Employees (Michele L. Earl-Hubbard; Hannah Sells Marcley*)
Chapter 11. Disclosure of Medical Information (Kristal K. Wiitala; Susan L. Pierini*)
Chapter 12. Various Government Service Exemptions (Juvenile, Family Law, Public Assistance and Benefits, Vehicles) (Kristal K. Wiitala; Susan L. Pierini*)
Chapter 13. Business-Related Information, Trade Secrets, Copyrights, and Related Exemptions (Judith A. Endejan†)
Chapter 14. Attorney-Client Privilege and Other Discovery Exemptions (Judith A. Endejan†; P. Stephen DiJulio)
Chapter 15. Exemptions Outside of Public Records Act (Kristal K. Wiitala; Taki V. Flevaris*)
Chapter 16. Court Remedies to Obtain Disclosure (Ramsey Ramerman; Eric M. Stahl; Sara Di Vittorio*)
Chapter 17. Reverse PRA Action (Private Party Seeking to Prevent Disclosure) (Richard W. Oehler†; James F. Williams†; Jay L. Griffiths; Ian D. Rogers*)
Chapter 18. Court-Awarded Attorney Fees,Costs, and Penalties (William E. Holt†; James W. Beck†)
Chapter 19. Preservation and Destruction of Public Records (Russell Wood†; Jeffrey T. Even†; Cindy R. Evans†)
Chapter 20. Introduction to the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (Richard W. Oehler†; Jay L. Griffiths; James F. Williams†; Ian D. Rogers*)
Chapter 21. Access to Court Proceedings and Court Records (Marshall J. Nelson; Angela Galloway; Eric M. Stahl*)
Chapter 22. Open Public Meetings Act (Bob Meinig; Timothy D. Ford; Adrian Urquhart Winder*)
Appendix Public Disclosure Exemptions 2019
*of 2020 Supplement / † of 2014 Deskbook and 2020 Supplement

Published: March 2020

302 pages

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