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Gronquist v. Dep't of Corrections

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

October 29, 2013

Derek E. Gronquist, Appellant ,
v.
The Department of Corrections, Respondent

Reconsideration denied December 10, 2013.

PUBLISHED IN PART

Appeal from Clallam Superior Court. Docket No: 08-2-00758-1. Date filed: 09/28/2011. Judge signing: Honorable S Brooke Taylor.

Derek E. Gronquist, pro se.

Robert W. Ferguson, Attorney General, and Brian J. Considine, Assistant, for respondent.

AUTHOR: J. Robin Hunt, J. We concur: Lisa Worswick, C.J., Bradley A. Maxa, J.

OPINION

Page 417

Hunt, J.

[177 Wn.App. 391] ¶ 1 -- Derek E. Gronquist appeals several superior court orders and findings entered in his Public Records Act (PRA) [1] lawsuit. He argues that the superior court erred in (1) limiting the penalty period of the Department of Corrections' (DOC) PRA violation and awarding a penalty amount that was too small and (2) concluding that the surveillance video recordings he requested on August 9, 2007, were exempt from disclosure under the PRA. We hold that RCW 42.56.565(1) bars an award of PRA penalties to Gronquist because (1) he was serving a criminal sentence in a correctional facility when he made his PRA request to DOC; (2) the superior court found no bad faith in DOC's inadvertent omission of one page from the documents it produced in response to his PRA request; and (3) no final judgment had yet been entered in his PRA action at the time the legislature enacted this prohibition in 2011. We further hold that the prison

Page 418

surveillance video recordings that Gronquist requested were exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56.240(1). Accordingly, we affirm. [2]

FACTS

I. PRA Requests to DOC

A. July 30, 2007 Request

¶ 2 On July 24, 2007, DOC inmate Derek E. Gronquist sent a PRA request to DOC seeking:

[177 Wn.App. 392] 1. All [DOC] inmate identification badges/cards from undocumented alien workers employed by DOC's Class II Industries [3] [...];
2. All records demonstrating the payment of any wages, gratuities, or other forms of payment to undocumented alien workers employed by the DOC [...];
3. All records revealing internal DOC communications and/or deliberations concerning the use of undocumented alien workers in DOC's Industries program.

Clerk's Papers (CP) at 252-53. Gronquist clarified that " 'undocumented alien worker'" meant " any person who is not a [U]nited [S]tates citizen and who does not possess a current and valid work permit or similar document authorizing such person to be employed in the [U]nited [S]tates." CP at 253. DOC received this request on July 30. The next day, DOC responded that it had no records to disclose in response to Gronquist's request because DOC's Class II Industries program did not identify offenders by citizenship and citizenship was not a part of its employment process.

B. August 9, 2007 Request

¶ 3 On August 9, DOC received from Gronquist a second, unrelated PRA request to DOC dated August 5, stating:

I am requesting the following records concerning an assault and/or extortion attempt that happened to me at the Clallam Bay Correction[s] Center on June 17, 2007:
1. All documents created in response to, or because of, this incident;
... .
4. The surv[e]illance video of C-unit from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. of June 17, 2007;
5. The surv[e]illance video of the chow hall used for C-unit inmates on ... and for the [b]reakfast meal on June 17, 2007;
[177 Wn.App. 393] ... .
9. The complete [i]nternal [i]nvestigations file.

CP at 215-16. In response to this request, on October 26, DOC staff (1) mailed Gronquist 96 pages of documents, from which 1 page was inadvertently missing; and (2) claimed that the surveillance video recordings were exempt from PRA disclosure under former RCW 42.56.420(2) (2005), providing a brief explanation for this claimed exemption. On November 2, the Stafford Creek Corrections Center intercepted this ...


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