Bainbridge Island Police Guild v. Koenig

This court case is completed

ACLU-WA filed an amicus brief asking the state Supreme Court to establish a test that properly balances the public’s right to know and an individual’s right to privacy when requesting public records. On September 30, 2007, John Muenster and Kim Koenig, a husband and wife couple, were pulled over on Bainbridge Island by Officer Steven Cain. Ms. Koenig, who was the passenger and also an attorney, immediately told the officer that she was her husband’s lawyer. Immediately after advising the police that she was John's lawyer, Kim was arrested for obstruction by Officer Cain as she stood by the door of the family car. She filed a complaint the next day with the Bainbridge Island Police Department, alleging that Officer Cain had manhandled and sexually assaulted her. Her case was referred to Mercer Island and Puyallup police departments for further internal investigation, who concluded her allegations were “unsubstantiated.” Ms. Koenig, along with some members of the press who picked up the story, submitted public records requests to the police departments involved. Officer Cain obtained an injunction to prevent the disclosure of records, which was granted. ACLU-WA believes that the public has a right to access records documenting police misconduct under the Washington Public Records Act, and filed an amicus brief on October 15, 2010. Authors of the amicus brief include then-staff attorney at ACLU-WA, Doug Klunder, and cooperating attorney Margaret Pak of Cronin Michelson Baumgardner and Preece LLP. The Washington Supreme Court ruled on August 18, 2011 that all records regarding Officer Cain’s conduct should be disclosed, but that his name should be redacted from them.