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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

County faces $100 daily fine for withholding documents

For the first time ever, Washington's maximum fine of $100 per day for withholding documents was imposed on Mason County, The Olympian (Wash.) reported. The county was sued by a resident who sent five e-mail requests for documents about a highway project and sewer systems. The county replied to none of the requests and has argued that it didn't do so because the e-mails ended up in the public-records officer's junk e-mail file.

A judge has penalized Mason County $145,000 in fines and legal costs for its failure to comply with a resident’s records requests.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor ruled in October after a bench trial that the county violated state law when it didn’t produce public documents requested by Tahuya resident Harold Carey.

The fines imposed by Tabor last week included an unprecedented daily penalty of $100 for withholding some of the undisclosed documents. That’s the maximum fine allowed under state law, said attorney Greg Overstreet, whose law firm, Allied Law Group, represented Carey.

More here.

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