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Wash. court records improperly sealed

Ken Armstrong, Justin Mayo and Steve Miletich of The Seattle Times used court records to show that since 1990, at least 420 civil suits have been sealed in King County, Wa. "These sealed records hold secrets of potential dangers in our medicine cabinets and refrigerators; of molesters in our day-care centers, schools and churches; of unethical lawyers, negligent doctors, dangerous dentists; of missteps by local and state agencies; of misconduct by publicly traded companies into which people sink their savings." The investigation found that at least 97 percent of the judges' sealing orders disregard rules set down by the Washington Supreme Court in the 1980s. Judges and commissioners have sealed at least 46 cases where a public institution is a party, 58 cases where a fellow lawyer is a party, usually as a defendant and sealed cases where the person being sued was a licensed professional — for example, a doctor, psychologist or counselor — who was subsequently disciplined by the state. The package includes a sidebar about how they did the reporting and the CAR techniques used.

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