Attorney General Rob McKenna held a news conference today on his ambitious agenda for the session of the Legislature starting next week.
We’ve written about much of it, including a new kind of legal device that prosecutors like Pierce County’s Mark Lindquist could use to turn practically anything a gang member does in certain “protection zones” into a jailable offense. I wrote about that in today’s paper.
McKenna also wants limits on the state’s liability to lawsuits that my colleague Brad Shannon wrote about last week. The rest of his wish list includes an Office of Open Records, a felony crime of mail theft and limitations on eminent domain.
At today’s presser, Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, talked about restrictions on litigious inmates that he and McKenna are supporting. One bill would protect state and local governments that fail to properly deliver public records to the inmates.
Inmates who file records requests would no longer be awarded fines for of $5 to $100 per day. Reporters and everyone else would remain entitled to the fines, and inmates could still be awarded legal fees.
McKenna said a handful of prisoners have turned records requests into a “cottage industry.” About 3 in 4 lawsuits over public records involve inmates, he said, and more than half of those come from about six people.
“The individual convict will be able to pursue their legitimate requests,” Carrell said, “but are not going to be able to financially benefit from that request.”
Another bill would cut off public legal-assistance money to inmates who repeatedly file frivolous lawsuits in state court. The “three-strikes” law mirrors a restriction in the federal courts and has an exception for individuals at risk of physical harm. Inmates could still sue at their own expense.