This court case is active
In 2013 an individual in Eastern Washington began making multiple public records requests under the Washington Public Records Act, seeking information regarding registered Level I sex offenders. Under Washington’s sex offender registration statute, Level I is the lowest offender level, and individuals registered at this level are considered least likely to re-offend.
The ACLU believes that release of sex offender information should be governed by the offender registration statute, RCW 4.24.550, and not subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act. Therefore, the ACLU is representing classes of Level I registered offenders seeking to block disclosure of personal information by several agencies including:
Washington State Patrol and Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs: The ACLU obtained a permanent injunction preventing the release of registration records of individuals who were level I offenders compliant with the conditions of registration on the date of the request. The case is currently being appealed.
Department of Corrections: The trial court issued preliminary injunctions preventing the release of registration records and evaluations of level I offenders compliant with the conditions of registration. The cases are still in King County Superior Court. There are no upcoming hearing dates.
King County: On November 20, 2014, the King County Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing release ofrecords of Level I offenders compliant with the terms of their registration. On December 4, the Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification. The class includes all individuals named in registration forms, a registration database, or SSOSA evaluations in the possession of King County and classified as sex offenders at Risk Level I, who are either complaint with the conditions of registration or have been relieved of the duty to register. Update: On June 19, 2014 Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in King County Superior Court preventing release of any of the requested records to Ms. Zink.
Pierce County: On November 13, 2014, the ACLU filed suit to prevent release of level I offender records andevaluations. The case was filed as a class action on behalf of all level I offenders named in Pierce County’s records who are compliant with the conditions of registration. On December 30, 2014, the Pierce County Superior Court granted the ACLU’s motion for preliminary injunction and certified the class of offenders represented by the ACLU. Update: On October 9, 2015 the Pierce County Superior Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, preventing release of any requested records to Ms. Zink.
Thurston County: In January 2015 the ACLU filed suit in Thurston County. On January 23, 2015, the Thurston County Superior Court granted the ACLU's motions (1) to certify a class of registered Level I sex offenders and (2) to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting release of any information about Level I sex offenders within the class. A final hearing in this case is schedule for July 17, 2015. Update: On August 31, 2015, the Thurston County Superior Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment in John Does v. Thurston County. The Court agreed with John Doe Plaintiffs that other statutes exempted sex offender registration records, SSOSA evaluations and SSODA evaluations from disclosure, and that the public records act does not require disclosure of the records. The Court entered an order preventing Thurston County from releasing unredacted records in response to the request.
If you have received notice about any of these requests and would like to receive case updates by e-mail or would like to become a plaintiff or provide information to assist the ACLU, you can write to [email protected]. (Please note that ACLU will only send updates in response to specific court decisions, and we do not have the capacity to respond to every inquiry or question received at this e-mail.) We will also post updates on this website regularly. Update: On July 17, 2015, Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment was heard in Thurston County Superior Court. A ruling on the motion is expected within a week.
Please note: Any legal action by ACLU to block disclosure of offender records will be only on behalf of Level I offenders currently in compliance with the terms of registration. If you have received a notice about a records release and you are a Level II or Level III offender and you wish to stop disclosure of your information you should seek legal counsel. You can find more information on lawyer referral services in Washington here.