Supreme Court General Rule GR31A and GR31.1

Over the last year or so the Supreme Court has been working on revisions to General Rule 31A and presently GR31.1, the latter the public comment phase is about to expire and likely will be a public meeting or two before the Justices rule on this. Both of the General Rules deal with how the court discloses public records if not public then administrative court records (non case file documents).

Having minimal faith in our Judiciary to become more clear and transparent than a rock I have somewhat ignored the process, while it is a great importance I made the personal decision to more or less sit out GR31A and had planned on doing the same with GR31.1. However a couple months ago a met a man who was very passionate about this new rule and the positive aspects it could bring to his issue, we talked and later spoke on the phone at length. His provided me some insight and opinions which I having been embroiled in the Domestic Violence arena have not been exposed to, I must say it was quite refreshing on many levels.

The one thing I have come to realize is just how closed and opposed to disclosure our Judicial branch of Government is and I suspect there is a great deal for them to be ashamed of is full disclosure were to happen.

GR31 (1)

GR31.1 (1)

As normal course, even when time constraints do not allow I committed to reviewing GR31.1 and offering at least one public comment on the proposal.

After digging my brain into 31.1 I started drafting a Public Comment for submission, after completing what felt like seventy or eighty percent of my comment I took a break and came back to it an hour or so later when I noticed my word count was over 3800 words, better check to see if AOC has a word count limit, and yes the do it was 1500 words. After spending more time editing down my comment than writing it I was done and it was submitted

12-29-12 GR31_1 Chief Justice Barbara Madsen Comment 1

Fresh in my head are the countless defects with GR31.1 not the least of which is the simple fact a disgruntled requestor could all but bring the accountability arm CJC of the Judiciary to its knees from a title wave of complaints.

I could offer more on this but suffice to say a ill conceived proposal by our highest Judicial officers, again. All this could be avoided by accepting governance under the existing Public Records Act and following the Judicial Cannons.

Here are a few additional public comments made, most speak the same hollow words “We support Transparency in the Court, but…”

11-30-12 GR31_1 DMCJA Judge Durr Comment

On Behalf of Spokane County Superior Court

On Behalf of the Superior Court of the State of Washington for the County of King

Superior Court Judges’ Association-12-31-12

Superior Court of the State of Washington for Thurston County

Superior Court of Washington for Pierce County

Some comments from other agencies-

On Behalf of Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington

On Behalf of Association of Washington Cities – Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys

On Behalf of Disability Rights Washington – David Lord

On Behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington

On Behalf of the Washington State Office of Public Defense

Justices denial of the public’s right to access is always more costly in the end.

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