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No Right to Washington Sex Offender Treatment Program Records in Public Records Case

The Washington State Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court’s order that rejected Monroe Correctional Facility prisoner Ronnie Hick’s claim against the Department of Corrections (DOC) for violations of the Public Records Act (PRA).

Hicks made a series of request in August and September 2007 from DOC for records pertaining to his participation in the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP), particularly his “SOTP termination form.”

DOC’s public disclosure coordinator sent Hicks a copy of the form on October 4, 2007, after he paid the copying costs. After Hicks filed an identical request, he was informed it had already been fulfilled.

In a November 27, 2007 appeal, Hicks complained the documents he received were forged. When his appeal was denied, he filed an action in Snohomish County Superior Court to seek relief und the PRA. “For the first time, Hicks identified the form he had been seeking as a copy to which new signatures and a date were added when the initial decision to terminate him from the program was reviewed and upheld by additional DOC staff in September 2007.”

The PRA requires agencies to produce “identifiable public records,” which requires that “a person seeking documents must identify or describe the documents to reasonable clarity to allow the agency to locate them.” As such, the PRA does not “require public agencies to be mind readers.”

Denial of relief was proper, the appeals court held, because he did not include the date of the later letter he was seeking and he failed to make his request to the “designated public disclosure coordinator.” Simply, there was no showing the DOC violated the PRA, so he was not entitled to any relief. This is an unpublished opinion. See: Hicks v. State of Washington, Case No. 63489-5-1, 156 Wash.App. 1032 (Wash.App. Div. 1, 2010).

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Related legal case

Hicks v. State of Washington