OLYMPIA — Today in Nissen v. Pierce County, the Washington Supreme Court unanimously held that records on a public employee’s private cell phone can be “public records” and thus subject to disclosure. The Court’s decision largely agrees with an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief filed by the Attorney General’s Office.
“The Court appropriately reiterated the spirit of openness underlying our Public Records Act,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “I’m pleased to see this ruling agreed with my office’s common-sense interpretation of the Act in our friend-of-the-court brief. We offered a workable framework for determining when a public official has created a public record and ensuring such records are subject to public review. As Justice Louis Brandeis articulated, ‘Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.’ The people of Washington deserve transparency from their elected officials.”