As of as we speak’s non-precedential choice in John Doe P v. Zink:
After permitting the plaintiffs to sue underneath pseudonyms, the courtroom ordered them to file a sealed doc containing their actual names (Disclosure Doc). We consider that the report doesn’t help the trial courtroom’s discovering that continued sealing was justified by compelling privateness or safety considerations that outweighed the general public curiosity in entry to courtroom information….
In 2014, Zink despatched a Public Data Act (PRA) request to Thurston County requesting varied intercourse offender information, together with registration information, Particular Evaluations of Various Sentencing for Intercourse Offenders (SSOSA), and Particular Evaluations of Various Inclinations for Intercourse Offenders (SSODA). John Doe P, John Doe Q, John Doe R and John Doe S (collectively, Does) filed a lawsuit to dam the county from releasing the info. John Does P, Q and S are Stage I intercourse offenders these categorized as least more likely to reoffend who claimed they met registration necessities. John Doe R claimed that he had been convicted of a intercourse offense in juvenile courtroom, accomplished remedy and was launched from registration necessities. The Does claimed that releasing the information requested by Zink would trigger irreparable hurt as a result of they’d reveal the identities of intercourse offenders, like themselves, who weren’t legally required to be listed on the state’s publicly accessible web site.
Zink finally largely prevailed on the substantive claims of the Data Act, following a number of selections by appellate courts and the state Supreme Courtroom (together with John Doe A And John Doe PII). And on this choice she additionally prevailed in her argument that the paperwork wherein Does recognized himself to the courtroom ought to be made public:
“In figuring out whether or not courtroom paperwork could also be sealed for disclosure, we begin with the presumption of openness.” Whereas “[o]penness is presumptive, … it isn’t absolute.” GR 15 units forth usually relevant requirements for sealing and redacting courtroom paperwork. Underneath GR 15(c)(2), a courtroom could seal or redact a doc provided that “the courtroom prepares and redacts a report.” enters written findings that the particular sealing or redaction is justified by recognized compelling privateness or safety considerations that outweigh the general public curiosity in entry to the courtroom report.”
Listed below are the courtroom’s findings from 2021, the place related:
The [Does] … have recognized compelling privateness and safety considerations and a severe imminent menace of quite a few harms if their names are revealed, by their movement and … statements …, which sufficiently outweigh the general public curiosity and [Zink’s] curiosity[ ] within the disclosure of the [Does]’ identities.
However the report displays that in 2019, after our Supreme Courtroom dominated John Doe A that intercourse offender registration data shouldn’t be exempt from disclosure by the PRA, Zink acquired annual updates to a Washington State Patrol database figuring out all Thurston County registered Stage I intercourse offenders, together with juvenile offenders. It’s undisputed that Zink made the database accessible on-line and shared it with others who requested it. She additionally deposited a part of the database beneath in response to Does’s 2019 movement to stay underneath a pseudonym. In the meantime, this courtroom dominated that a lot of the paperwork Zink requested from Thurston County ought to be made public. That too is past dispute John Doe PIIThurston County started releasing the info Zink was entitled to, together with registration information that identifies Stage I intercourse offenders.
Briefly, the knowledge the Does sought to guard by submitting their lawsuit – their identities as intercourse offenders – grew to become publicly accessible effectively earlier than their September 2022 movement to maintain the Disclosure Doc sealed. To help a discovering that the continued sealing of the Disclosure Doc was justified by compelling privateness or safety considerations underneath GR 15(c)(2), the Does had been required to determine privateness or safety considerations particular to their id because the plaintiffs on this lawsuit. , which is distinct from their id as intercourse offenders.
The Does didn’t determine such considerations. They filed most of their supporting affidavits earlier than our Supreme Courtroom’s ruling John Doe A, and so they solely describe the anticipated hurt related to revealing their identities as intercourse offenders. Neither the Does’s statements nor the statements of their consultants clarify why, provided that this data was already publicly accessible, compelling privateness or safety considerations nonetheless remained that outweighed the presumption in favor of openness and which justified the sealing of the Disclosure Doc.
But the Does declare that new returns they filed in 2022 are “articulated.”[ed] the continued nature of their compelling safety and privateness considerations if their names had been launched in reference to the lawsuit.” However these statements didn’t determine any separate compelling privateness or safety considerations associated to their identities, as claimants. The proof doesn’t help the trial courtroom’s discovering that the Does met the necessities of GR 15(c)(2), so the trial courtroom abused its discretion in ordering that the disclosure doc stay sealed….