A Federal Way Municipal Court employee complained of a hostile work environment to the City.???? As required by the City?s anti- discrimination policy, the City Attorney initiated an investigation. ?Richardson hired attorney Amy Stephson to conduct a factual investigation of the complaint.?? After meeting with Stephson, Judge Morgan attempted to terminate her investigation. The City Attorney instructed Stephson to complete a report on her investigation anyway. Later that month, Judge Morgan wrote an e-mail to ?the? City? Attorney,? complaining? that Stephson?s investigation was creating a hostile work environment for him.?? He then forwarded that e-mail message to the private e-mail address of one of the city council members.?? The News Tribune requested a copy of the ?Stephson Report,? and the City agreed to produce it.? Judge Morgan ?filed ?a ?motion ?to ?prevent ?the ?release.
The trial court granted a temporary restraining order,? preventing? the? City? from? releasing? the report, but ultimately denied Judge Morgan?s motion and dissolved the TRO.? ?Judge Morgan appealed to Division One of the Court of Appeals and? ?that? ?appeal? ?was?? transferred?? to? ?the? ?state Supreme Court.
In relevant part, the Court ruled that the investigation was a city record.?? The Court ruled that? ?the? ?investigation?? was? ?not? ?work? ?product because at the time of the request, no one had threatened litigation, as was required under the city policy.?? The Court dismissed out of hand Judge Morgan?s argument that the report was exempt as an attorney-client communication, because the investigator was hired not by Judge Morgan, and was ?allegedly ??independent,? ?and? because ?the report contained no legal advise, but was purely factual.
Judge Morgan argued that the report was exempt because it concerned matters about a person?s private life that ?(1) [w]ould be highly offensive to a?? reasonable?? person,?? and,?? (2)?? ?[are]?? not?? of legitimate? concern? to? the? public.? ?Unsubstantiated allegations are exempt from disclosure.??? ?The Court, per Justice Chens, dismissed this argument on the grounds that the allegations are not unsubstantiated simply because he disputes them, and the report concludes that the allegations are true.
Morgan v. City of Federal Way, — Wn2d —, 213 P.3d 596 (August 20, 2009).