The state Supreme Court ruled today that the attorney-client privilege exception to state open records laws allows a Spokane school district to keep nearly all documents related to an investigation and settlement after a third-grader died in 2001 when someone gave him a lunch containing peanuts. The school allegedly knew of his allergy, but settled out of court with the parents. The Spokesman Review sued for the records.
The state high court ruled 5-4 that all investigation materials handled by the District's attorneys became private, according to the majority decision authored by Justice Bobbe Bridge. In his dissent, Justice Charles Johnson writes that the ruling opens to door for government agencies subject to state open records laws to hand anything they don't want made public their attorneys and invoke privilege.