Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When the Requests Get Creepy...

Allan Parmelee has a lot of time on his hands - another 19 years, for having the cars of two lawyers firebombed. He's using it to dig up information about the people who sent him to prison, including judges and prosecutors, as well as pretty much every other public employee he's encountered in his legal odyssey.

But his hundreds of requests under the state's Public Records Act have become so numerous, and so creepy, that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has taken the extraordinary step of asking a judge not only to let his office ignore Parmelee's pending requests, but to bar him from filing any more with the prosecutor's office in the future. Superior Court Judge Glenna Hall is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in the case, which tests the limits of the state's disclosure law.

"I am a proponent of open government, and I am very familiar with the Public Records Act and its underlying philosophy," Satterberg wrote in a declaration. "I do not bring this petition lightly. However ... Allan Parmelee has a long history of using the Public Records Act to try and intimidate and harass my deputies and other criminal justice system employees."

Parmelee, whose criminal history also includes convictions for harassment and stalking, was convicted at his second trial in 2004 of first-degree arson in the firebombing of a vehicle belonging to his ex-wife's divorce lawyer in 1998, and of a vehicle belonging to a lawyer who represented his roommate's ex-girlfriend in 2002. His first trial ended in a mistrial because he was found to have personal information about the jurors, one of whom reported receiving a phone call from him.

While in prison, he has sought records - such as addresses, photos, pay, schedules, professional histories and birthdates - of thousands of Washington State Patrol troopers and state Department of Corrections staff, Satterberg wrote in court papers. Several requests since last October seek information about everyone in Satterberg's office, and in particular photos and personnel records of three deputy prosecutors who handled his cases. He's also seeking video or other electronic images of two Superior Court judges - including Julie Spector, who sentenced him to 24 years - and two court commissioners.

In addition, he has asked the state attorney general's office for records including "working hours, schedules ... (and) photographs in color" of eight current and former assistant attorneys general. In a phone conversation, Parmelee told one, Brian Maxsey, that he might pay a visit to his house; another, Sara Olson, received a letter from Parmelee that referenced the firebombings and said she was acting "so unprofessionally (as) to invite some similar response."

The state has won previous orders against disclosing specific information to Parmelee, such as photographs of Corrections staff, but for an agency to seek to bar someone from exercising his rights under the Public Records Act is "extraordinary," said Seattle open-government lawyer Michele Earl-Hubbard.

More here.

No comments: