Public agency officials responsible for responding to public records requests for texts, emails, and other electronic records stored on personal smartphones and computers can breathe a sigh of relief.  In Forbes v. City of Gold Bar (pdf), the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a requester’s lawsuit filed against the City of Gold Bar under the Public Records Act (“PRA”), chapter 42.56 RCW.  In so doing, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed the principle that the responding agency’s search process for responsive documents — not the results of such search — is reviewed for reasonableness.  Further, the Court clarified that agency affidavits concerning the responsiveness vel non of documents are accorded a strong presumption of good faith.  Where such affidavits are nonconclusory, include the search terms used by the responding agencies, and identify the places and devices searched, and where a requester fails to articulate a specific reason why an in camera review is necessary, a trial court may rule based solely on such affidavits.
Continue Reading Wash. Ct. of Appeals: Public Records Act Responses Are Reviewed for Reasonableness