Pants On

Posted October 12th, 2007 by Joe Kaiser

Dear Rob,

I flinched yesterday and it’s bothered me ever since.

When I posted my response to Benton County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hsu, I didn’t post his letter because it warned, (in UPPERCASE type, no less) that if I did there could be serious consequences (none of which, I’m guessing, are good).

Once again, my bad.


Though not an attorney, I’m confident the “NOT FOR PUBIC DISSEMINATION” warning is NOT in the spirit of the “sunshine laws” your office demands state agencies support.

Here then, in its entirety, is the email.

Dear Mr. Kaiser:

Your public records request directed at the Benton County Treasurer has been referred to me for review and assistance. Enclosed, please find an affidavit prepared for your signature. As Mr. Davidson, the Benton County Treasurer, mentioned to you by email, this affidavit is necessary since your request seeks information about tax foreclosure sales including the name of the taxpayers. As such, the records produced will necessarily include a “list of individuals.” Please complete the affidavit, swear to it before a Notary Public and send it directly to me including the included Exhibit. In order for the affidavit to be valid, please ensure that you present both pages to the Notary and ask him or her to acknowledge the second page. As soon as I receive it, we will be able to respond to your request.

Mr. Davidson advises me that he has been in contact with other Treasurers in Washington who have received your public records request and, as a result of that contact, believes that what you seek is slightly narrower in scope than described in your initial email request. Specifically we are interpreting your request as being limited to records reflecting the unclaimed proceeds of tax foreclosure sales dating back seven years (the retention period observed by the Treasurer’s Office) where such proceeds escheated back to Benton County’s current expense account by operation of applicable law. Please advise me in writing immediately if this interpretation is incorrect.

Please contact me directly should you have any questions about this process. Be advised, however, that as a Deputy Prosecutor, I cannot render legal advice to you or any other member of the public. Thank you for your cooperation.

Eric Hsu

ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED OR ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT PRIVILEGED MATERIAL. NOT FOR THIRD PARTY DISSEMINATION, OR FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE

Eric Hsu, Senior Deputy Prosecutor
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
7122 W. Okanogan Pl
Kennewick, WA 99336
Phone – 509.735.3591
Fax – 509.222.3705

This email, any and all attachments hereto, and all information contained and conveyed herein may contain and be deemed confidential attorney client privileged and/or work product information. If you have received this email in error, please delete and destroy all electronic, hard copy and any other form immediately. It is illegal to intentionally intercept, endeavor to intercept or procure any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral or electronic communication.


pants required

Seems simple enough, except for this part . . .

Mr. Davidson advises me that he has been in contact with other Treasurers in Washington who have received your public records request . . .— Eric Hsu, Senior Deputy Prosecutor
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

The old “. . . in contact with other Treasurers . . .” ploy, eh?

No surprise there.

In the arena, sans skirt,

Joe Kaiser


3 Responses to: “Pants On”

  1. Davido responds:
    Posted: October 12th, 2007 at 6:23 am

    Joe, you did good -very good. You didn’t flinch, or even hesitate, when you let Mr. Hsu know that his noncommercial use affidavit was inapplicable and would not be signed, and you even sent to him the Washington AG’s opinion that says so.

    As for Mr. Hsu’s inclusion of this phrase to his letter;

    “ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED OR ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT PRIVILEGED MATERIAL. NOT FOR THIRD PARTY DISSEMINATION, OR FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE”

    It seems that he is trying to baffle someone with B.S.. Yesterday, I thought the statement “NOT FOR THIRD PARTY DISSEMINATION, OR FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE” was a privacy claim. However, he is claiming Attorney-Client privilege -amazing! That is a claim of privilege from being compelled to testify about what he wrote on behalf of his client -Benton County. Then, “Attorney Work Product” is another claim that he has privilege from being compelled to reveal his correspondence under “discovery” requests, in the course of a law suit.

    So, if you want to someday compell him to tell a jury, what he has already told you, he’s likely to claim its “privileged”? Isn’t that idea a bit revolting? Anyhow, a hearty congratulations to you on having had the knowledge and fortitude to refuse his Affidavit! Congratulations on having done the research to know what is actually required, and being able to wade through all this B.S..

    Most of all, thank you sincerely for sharing your knowledge and experiencel with the public.

  2. olyguy responds:
    Posted: October 12th, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I think by this time that almost all lawyers have a boiler plate statement RE confidentiality as part of their emails.

    The ones I like are when I get humor email from friends who are lawyers and their signature block includes a cautionary statement like Hsu’s. So…. you humor email is privileged, eh?

    And in any case, for his email statement to have any validity, you would have had to agreed to a non-disclosure agreement with him. And even if you are present when he might discuss something with one of his clients, unless you are also his client in the same matter, everything that you hear or see is not privileged either. So…like the dog in a Gary Larson cartoon said of a cat, “Trickery!”

    Thanks again for exposing the WA gestapo to public scrutiny.

  3. LeonB responds:
    Posted: October 12th, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Joe,

    You flinched because you are a person who is conscious of the law and attmepts to abide by it. That would be my guess.

    LeonB


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