Does the Public Records Act apply to the Judicial Branch?

Access to judicial records is governed by court rules and not the Public Records Act (PRA) under RCW 42.56. There are two types of judicial records addressed by court rules: (1) "court (or case) records" (records filed with the court in a judicial proceeding that are usually maintained by the court clerk); and (2) "administrative records" (any record pertaining to the management, supervision or administration of the judicial branch).

Access to court/case records in the municipal court is governed by the following court General Rules (GR): GR 31 (Access to Court Records), GR 15 (Destruction, Sealing and Redaction of Court Records).

Access to judicial administrative is governed by GR 31.1 (effective January 1, 2016). The judicial branch is committed to openness, transparency, and the belief that the public should have access to most court records and administrative public records. These FAQs address GR 31.1, access to judicial administrative records. For information regarding access to records contained in court case files (court or case records), please consult GR 31.

The form for requesting records from a case file is located on the court website under Records Request. It is best to request records in person from the court to make sure the clerk fully understands your request. However, you may also mail or email the records request form to the court. It is your responsibility to make sure it is properly received by the court by calling the court at 206-842-5641 to confirm.

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1. Does the Public Records Act apply to the Judicial Branch?
2. What is the purpose of Rule GR 31.1?
3. What judicial administrative records in Washington State are available to the public?
4. Why are some records not available to the public?
5. If a record is available to the public, why may portions of the record be blocked out (redacted)?
6. How long are administrative public records kept?
7. How do I request a record?
8. What is the Municipal Court's process for responding to the request?
9. What if I disagree with the decision of the Public Records Officer?
10. Can I view public administrative records in-person?
11. How can I get paper copies of records?
12. What is the cost of obtaining or viewing administrative records?
13. Does the public records officer keep track of requests for administrative public records?
14. Is the court responsible for what happens when other people use information they received from an administrative public record?