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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

Issaquah Law Group: Experienced Counsel; Client Focus

PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

WA Supreme Court: Failure to Explain Exemption Under PRA is Aggravating Factor

 

Sanders v. State

Justice Sanders, who obviously didn't participate in this (especially after the Yousoufian debacle), brought a PRA request. In their response, they listed exemptions, but failed to provide an explanation of how the exemption applied under the Public Records Act. A twist to this involves Sanders' counsel, who accepted a pile the AGs office compiled for a wider PRA request. The court identified a few issues. Luckily, the issues breakdown included where the law was going as well. Because its such a monster, I will provide only the brief issue statement and brief conclusion. If you want to know more, you should contact PRA super-guru David Norman, who probably already has this opinion memorized (side note...no way in hell am I taking the time to format this cut and paste job...I do have cases to work on, you know!):

1. Is there a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment as to

 

whether Justice Sanders's attorney agreed to accept the production given to

BIAW as full satisfaction of his PRA request?

Conclusion:  Yes.  The trial court is affirmed on different grounds.  See infra

at pp. 12-14.

2. Did AGO's response violate the PRA if it did not contain a brief explanation

of how its claimed exemptions applied to the records withheld, and if so,

what is the remedy for such a violation?

Conclusion:  Yes.  The remedy is consideration when awarding costs and fees

or when imposing penalties for failure to produce nonexempt records.  The

trial court is affirmed. See infra at pp. 14-18.

3. Did AGO's subsequent production of the SPDs waive objection to or admit

7 The legal issues in this case are numerous, as a consequence of which the
opinion is lengthy.  For ease of reading, we indicate our disposition on each issue and
cross-reference our analysis of it.

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Sanders (Richard B.) v. State, 82849-1

the proposition that the SPDs were nonexempt?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp. 18-20.

4. For each document withheld, was the failure to produce that document a PRA

violation, i.e., was each document exempt from production?

a. Did the trial judge abuse its discretion  by              considering the State's

Appendix A?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp. 20-22.

b. Does the attorney-client privilege protect every confidential

communication between lawyers and clients,  once the attorney-client

relationship exists?

Conclusion:  We assume, without deciding, that the privilege protects only

legal advice, and that the trial court interpreted the privilege too broadly.

See infra at pp. 22-23.

c. Did the trial court err in relying on the  "common interest" doctrine,

allowing AGO to claim exemptions for documents it had shared with other

agencies?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp. 24-25.

d. Did the trial court misinterpret the law when applying the work product

privilege?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp. 25-29.

e. Did the court err in determining that some documents were exempt?

Conclusion:     Yes, four documents were nonexempt.  The trial court is

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Sanders (Richard B.) v. State, 82849-1

reversed as to these four documents and affirmed as to all others.  See

infra at pp. 29-31.

5. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in setting AGO's penalty?

a. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in assessing the "brief explanation"

penalty as a $3       per  day aggravator to the penalty for wrongfully

withholding documents?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp.32-34.

b. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in setting the penalty for failure to

produce nonexempt documents at the bottom of the statutory range?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp. 34-35.

c. Did the trial court err when, for the purposes of calculating the penalty, it

included the number of days the court took to adjudicate the case?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp. 35-37.

d. Did the court err in treating the 6-9 wrongfully withheld documents as two

"records" for the purposes of penalties?

Conclusion: No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at p. 37.

e. What penalty applies to the documents deemed nonexempt on appeal?

Conclusion:  The trial court's penalty is appropriate.  See infra at p. 38.

6. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in awarding Justice Sanders 37.5

percent of his fees and costs and in refusing to multiply his fees by 1.5?

Conclusion:  No.  The trial court is affirmed.  See infra at pp. 38-44.

7. Is Justice Sanders entitled to fees and costs on appeal?

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Sanders (Richard B.) v. State, 82849-1

Conclusion:  Yes, to some extent.  See infra at pp. 44-46.

 

 

 

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