12/25/2017: "Court Finds In Favor Of County In Public Record Case"
A Skagit County Judge has ruled in favor of San Juan County in a law suit filed by Mr. Kilduff over a public records request.
San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord explained that in 2015, he and “Mr. Kilduff talked about the County’s plan to respond to a public record request. A final report was provided to Mr. Kilduff with an invitation to let the county know if he wanted anything more.
Mr. Gaylord stated that a year later “Mr. Kilduff sued without using the internal review procedure. The judge wrote the internal review process is “consistent with and not precluded by the Public Records Act.”
Mr. Kilduff told The Island Guardian that “the court ruling was simply that the Public Records Act is subject to the County’s procedures for exhaustion; something we believe is not consistent with state law and is a worthy topic for appeal. The cases we bring are specifically meant to clarify the county’s position on transparency, or lack thereof.”
Mr. Nicholas Power of Friday Harbor and Michele Earl-Hubbard of Seattle represented Mr. Kilduff against the County.
Mr. Power said “Ms. Earl-Hubbard and I bring tough cases against governments and we will continue to bring these hard cases. We respectfully disagree with the Court's ruling and we will appeal to ensure the transparency and accountability of our government.”
Mr. Kilduff said “This will continue. During testimony, the county admitted to withholding documents that they did not want released, probably because they were embarrassing. The judge did not rule on that, just that the process established by Mr. Gaylord himself for release of the documents was not exhausted. Fox watching henhouse.”
In a press release on the case Mr. Gaylord noted “the public records lawsuit also included a claim to oust Jamie Stephens from office. The ouster claim is called a quo warran to proceeding. Only two people may file such a proceeding: the Prosecuting Attorney and a person who has a reason to believe he or she is entitled to the office. Mr. Kilduff was neither. The Court awarded $10,000 in sanctions under a court rule that requires an attorney to conduct an adequate investigation prior to filing suit, and a statute that provides recovery of attorney fees for defending against a frivolous lawsuit.’