The County Clerk must keep all court records for the Superior Court. They are classified into the following case types:
RCW 40.16.010 Injury to Public Records
Every person who shall willfully and unlawfully remove, alter, mutilate, destroy, conceal or obliterate a record, map, book, paper, document, or other thing filed or deposited in a public office, or with any public officer, by authority of the law shall be punished by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not more than five years, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both.
Public Records Act does not apply to Judicial Records
Note:The application of the public records statute to judicial records was resolved by Nast v. Michaels, 107 Wn.2d 300 (1986). The Court held that the statute did not apply to judicial records (case files) held by the county clerk. Disclosure of judicial records is governed by a limited common law right of access as determined by the court on a case by case basis.
Adoption / Relinquishment
RCW 26.33.330 Records Sealed - inspection only on court order. (1) All records of any proceeding under this chapter shall be sealed and shall not be thereafter opened to inspection by an person except under order of the court for good cause shown, or except by using the procedure described in RCW 26.33.343 (relating to confidential intermediaries). In determining whether good cause exists, the court shall consider any certified statement on file with the Department of Health as provided in RCW 26.33.347 (desire to be contacted). (2)The state registrar of vital statistics may charge a reasonable fee for the review of any of its sealed records.
Explanatory note: Accessible to authorized court staff only. Attorney of record may have access to the file, however, once the case is completed - a court order is required for any access to the file. Individuals including the parties must obtain a court order authorizing the clerk to provide certain information or copies. Requests can be made through a Confidential Intermediary.
RCW 26.26.041 - Protection of participants.
Proceedings under this chapter are subject to other law of this state governing the health, safety, privacy, and liberty of a child or other individuals that could be jeopardized by disclosure of identifying information, including the address, telephone number, place of employment, social security number, and the child's day-care facility and school.
Explanatory note: Under the statute all papers and other records are confidential except the judgment of paternity itself - the judgment is a matter of public record. Only parties of record and attorney of record can access the paternity file by providing valid identification to staff. Over the telephone, clerk staff can only verify if a judgment exists and provide the judgment number.
Mental Illness / Alcohol Commitment
RCW 71.05.390 - Confidential information and records - Disclosure.
Except as provided in this section, RCW 71.05.445, 71.05.630, 70.96A.150, or pursuant to a valid release under RCW 70.02.030, the fact of admission and all information and records compiled, obtained, or maintained in the course of providing services to either voluntary or involuntary recipients of services at public or private agencies shall be confidential. …
Explanatory note: Under the statute all papers and other records are confidential and only open to the patient and the patient's attorney of record by providing valid identification to staff. The proper written consent of the patient shall be obtained, with respect to whom such record is maintained, before information or records may be disclosed. The existence of any case to the public is not allowed.
Juvenile Dependency / At Risk Youth / Truancy
RCW 13.50.100 - Records not relating to commission of juvenile offenses - Maintenance and access - Disclosure
(2) Records covered by this section shall be confidential and shall be released only pursuant to this section and RCW 13.50.010 …
Explanatory note: Under the statute all papers and other records are confidential and only open to the dependent, the dependent's parents (except not to a parent whose parental rights have been terminated) or to the dependent's or parent's attorney of record (except not when the parent's parental rights have been terminated), a court appointed guardian ad litem, and the attorney general. The dependency hearings are open to the public unless otherwise determined by the judicial officer. Any appointed guardian has access to the order appointing them guardian only. (In summary: If the parental rights have been terminated by the court the file is no longer accessible by those parties to the action.)
RCW 13.50.250 Records chapter applicable to.
This chapter applies to all juvenile justice or care agency records created on or after July 1, 1978.
Explanatory note: Explanatory note: Juvenile offender cases filed prior to July 1, 1978 are all confidential, available only to the juvenile, the juvenile's parents (except not to a parent whose parental rights have been terminated through a separate dependency filing), the attorney of record, and the prosecutor. Juvenile offender cases filed on or after July 1, 1978 are public records.