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Faulkner v. Dep't of Corrections

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

August 19, 2014

Clarence Jay Faulkner, Appellant,
v.
The Department of Corrections, Respondent

Appeal from Franklin Superior Court. Docket No: 12-2-51010-8. Judge signing: Honorable Bruce a Spanner. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 04/19/2013.

Clarence J. Faulkner, pro se.

Robert W. Ferguson, Attorney General, and Cassie B. vanRoojen, Assistant, for respondent.

Authored by Christopher E. Culp. Concurring: Kevin M. Korsmo, Stephen M. Brown.

OPINION

Culp, J.[*]

Page 1137

[183 Wn.App. 96] ¶ 1 -- Newly enacted RCW 42.56.565(1) prohibits the award of penalties to inmates for

Page 1138

violations of the Public Records Act (PRA), chapter 42.56 RCW, unless the court finds that the agency acted in bad faith in denying the person the opportunity to inspect or copy the public record. Inmate Clarence Faulkner submitted a public records request to the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) for two documents related to rejected mail. After the initial production was incomplete, Mr. Faulkner sought penalties from the DOC for a violation of the PRA. The trial court found that a violation occurred but declined to award penalties because there was no showing of bad faith as required by RCW 42.56.565(1). Mr. Faulkner appeals. He contends that the DOC's dilatory search and disclosure of the identifiable documents constituted bad faith. We conclude that the DOC did not act in bad faith and affirm the decision of the trial court.

FACTS

¶ 2 On July 11, 2012, the DOC received a PRA request from Mr. Faulkner. He requested disclosure of

1. A copy of the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center's [CRCC] " signature sheet" for the issuance of incoming Legal Mail from the Thurston County Superior Court addressed to Clarence Jay [183 Wn.App. 97] Faulkner #842107 received on July 2, 2012 and logged in at 11:36 a.m. by OA3 Mr. Michael True. This signature sheet contains 9 entries and the entry for Clarence Faulkner is line 6. In the place where prisoner Faulkner would normally sign his name is written " NOT RECEIVED" and is signed by prison guard V. Miller and possibly another prison guard.
If you assert that this document does not exist, or is exempt from disclosure, please so state.
2. A copy of the CRCC Local Mail Rejection Disposition Notice Mail Rejection F-4-60.

Clerk's Papers (CP) at 201. On July 18, public disclosure specialist Paula Terrell responded to Mr. Faulkner. She summarized his request and notified him that she would respond to him on or before August 24, 2012 regarding the status of his request.

¶ 3 Ms. Terrell contacted the CRCC and requested

1. A copy of the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center " signature sheet" for the issuance of incoming legal mail from the Thurston County Superior Court addressed to you Clarence Faulkner #842107 and received on July 2, 2012 and logged in at 11:36 a.m. by OA3 Michael True;
2. Coyote Ridge Corrections Center local mail rejection disposition notice mail rejection #F460.

CP at 203. A responsive document was provided to Ms. Terrell.

¶ 4 On August 29, the DOC informed Mr. Faulkner that his requested record was ready for disclosure after payment of a fee. The completed request contained one page.

¶ 5 Mr. Faulkner paid the fee and received CRCC's legal mail log for July 2, 2012. DOC indicated to Mr. Faulkner that the matter was closed. The legal mail log contained Mr. Faulkner's name and inmate number and listed Mr. Faulkner's mail from Thurston County Superior Court. However, the log was blank and did not contain any signatures.

[183 Wn.App. 98] ¶ 6 Mr. Faulkner notified DOC that he requested the completed legal mail log, not a blank original. A few days later, Mr. Faulkner contacted DOC again and asked about the local mail rejection disposition notice. Mr. Faulkner filed a formal appeal with the DOC on these matters. DOC acknowledged the complaint and notified ...


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