Facts: Petitioner Allan Parmelee, an inmate at the Washington State Penitentiary, filed a public records request for documents containing information regarding respondent Eric Burt and several other Washington State Penitentiary employees pursuant to Washington Revised Code §42.56. Burt and the other employees subsequently filed suit in the Superior Court for Walla Walla County seeking to enjoin the Department of Corrections from releasing the documents. Following a hearing in which the Department of Corrections filed a memorandum supporting the granting of an injunction, the trial court granted the relief sought by Burt. Parmelee, who had not been named as a party in the action, responded to the resulting rejection of his public records request by filing a limited notice of appearance seeking to intervene in the case, asserting that Washington Court Rules §19 requires that a requester of public records be joined in any action seeking to enjoin the disclosure of the requested records. The Washington Court of Appeals rejected Parmelee’s attempt to intervene and affirmed the trial court’s decision. Parmelee appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Does §19 require Parmelee’s joinder in order to guarantee a fair proceeding?
Conclusion: Justice Charles W. Johnson’s opinion for the Court concluded that Parmelee’s joinder was mandatory under §19 insofar as his participation was necessary for a fair proceeding due to the fact that without it the hearing was not adversarial (as the Department of Corrections supported Burt’s request for an injunction and therefore no party advocated disclosure during the hearing), resulting in Parmalee being unable to protect his interest in having the requested records released. Thus, the Court vacated the trial court’s injunction and remanded the case.
Petitioner: Allan Parmelee
(Counsel: Michael Charles Kahrs and Alex D. Brown)
Respondent: Eric Burt
(Counsel: Peter William Berney, Daniel John Judge, and Jay Douglas Geck)
Other Parties: Department of Corrections
Argument: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 2:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Prevailing Party: Allan Parmelee (Petitioner)
Court: Madsen1 Court (2010-)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.