By: Brian Matthews, #796769
Song Pick: “Victim of Change” by Judas Priest
What do you do if the largest State agency (DOC) intentionally hides your own records from you and then tries to bully you around in Court using the second largest State agency (and ostensibly the State’s largest law firm), the Attorney General’s office? If you said “Sue them shits,” you’re on point.
I wanted to file a collateral attack on my criminal conviction because there are new developments in the law regarding an offender’s age being a factor when a crime is committed. Accord State v. O’Dell, 183 Wn. 2d 680, 358 P. 3d 359 (2015). In order to provide the Court with evidence for my argument, I made a Public Records Request to DOC pursuant to the provisions of State law–RCW 42.56.001 et seq. The records I requested were the LSI-R Assessments which were conducted on me by DOC. Without getting into the technicalities, these Assessments provide objective analysis from DOC personnel regarding–inter alia–my maturity level and social functioning. Blah, blah blah, right? Get to the point already. Jeesh.
DOC tells me there are 57-pages of responsive records. I pay for the copies, and DOC sends me the 57-pages. Except that they’re heavily redacted, and the exemptions that DOC claims justify their redactions are patently bogus. So I filed suit, challenging DOC’s redactions, and also challenging the DOC’s refusing to disclose or produce about 250 additional records that are clearly identified and referenced IN the records they gave me. Geniuses, these guys. Pure. Effing. Geniuses. Refusing to disclose responsive records on request under the PRA is “illegal.” Sanders v. State, 169 Wn.2d 827, 835-36, 240 P. 3d 120 (2010).
The Attorney General representing the State sent me a letter, telling me that if I continued with an “obvious case that has no merit,” then she would seek attorney fees and a frivolous finding against me. Instead of cowering like a kicked puppy and licking her boots like she must have expected of me, I filed my opening brief as a Motion for Order to Show Cause. Does the Attorney General mash me out like she threatened in her letter? NOPE! Instead, she serves her Response brief on me ADMITTING that my claims were accurate and promptly providing me with unredacted copies of my requested records–eleven months after I asked for them. She INVITES the court to ONLY grant me judgment for $3,400 ($10 per day penalty, for 340 consecutive days). Wait a minute, what happened to all that “obvious case that has no merit” shit, Miss Attorney General? Crickets. And the absolute kicker? She never even FILED the Response with the Court she only sent me a copy, and played coy with the Court like DOC hadn’t even violated the law. The Judge found that DOC violated the law and ordered that we have a penalty hearing to determine how bad DOC’s punishment is going to be.
Lest it be forgotten: Government OF the People. BY the People. FOR the People. While I make it a point to be respectful to and for our public servants which are respectful to and for me, I still expect them to follow the very laws that they took oaths to support. We’re all only human (well, some of us, at least), but everybody is presumed to know the law. Bellevue v. Miller, 85 Wn. 2d 539, 541, 536 P. 2d 603 (1975)(“the presumption that persons know the law is so familiar that no recitation of authority is required.”). This also applies to those in public service. My lawsuit can be found at Thurston County Superior Court Cause No. 17-2-04257-34.