Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: O'Connor v. DSHS (1999)


Denis Stearns represented Kathleen O’Connor in litigation against the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services after a state worker sexually assaulted her son. DSHS had denied access to public records, saying the act was not a tool to be used during pretrial discovery against the state.

The act requires all state and local agencies to make "all public records" open for review or copying unless the record falls within a specific exemption. Such exemptions include school records and some police reports.

Stearns took the case to the Washington State Supreme Court, and won.

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