Wash. high court requires proper records searches

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Government agencies may face higher penalties if they fail to properly search for documents in response to public records requests.

The state Supreme Court said in a ruling Thursday that an inadequate search may be considered an aggravating factor in calculating daily penalties. The court says agencies must search for records in all areas where they are reasonably likely to be found.

Justices say Spokane County failed to sufficiently search for records in response to a request focused on a log of information about a government seating chart. The court says the search was inadequate because it examined only an employee's computer that had recently been replaced.

Attorneys in the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment.