Judge rules in favor of News Tribune in fight over Fife public records

A Pierce County Superior Court judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of The News Tribune in a fight over disclosure of public records in the City of Fife.

Judge Bryan Chushcoff lifted an injunction that blocked Fife from releasing the personnel records of a former city employee last month. Chushcoff’s order was then put on hold until Oct. 28 pending a possible appeal to the state Court of Appeals, but the city says it plans to release the records if an appeal isn’t filed.

Judge Ed Murphy had granted the 40-day injunction Sept. 22, despite knowing that the newspaper hadn’t been notified of the complaint or the hearing.

Murphy’s order prevented the release of the records after an attorney for the former employee filed a motion less than two hours before the expiration of a city-imposed deadline to take action.

Chushcoff’s order issued Tuesday states that “the City of Fife is not restrained from providing” the newspaper with the responsive records, according to court documents.

The News Tribune requested the personnel records July 28.

The former employee’s complaint claimed the newspaper’s request violated the Public Disclosure Act and that the records “are not of legitimate concern to the public.” It also stated that their disclosure would violate privacy rights.