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Prisoner sues Island County

An inmate at a state prison has filed three lawsuits against Island County for alleged violations of the Public Records Act by the sheriff’s office.

Rayne Wells Jr. is currently serving time on a 2004 conviction for first-degree robbery and second-degree assault in Skagit County. He filed the lawsuits from prison, claiming that Island County employees did not properly respond to three public records requests he made while being held in the county jail last year.

Wells requests statutory penalties and disclosure of records.

The county prosecutor’s office is defending the sheriff against the claims.

“At this point, the sheriff is defending the three Wells lawsuits based upon the fact that the Sheriff’s Office complied with the Public Records Act for the two requests received and didn’t receive a third request through the mail as Wells alleges,” Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor David Jamieson wrote in an email.

Jamieson filed a motion asking a judge to consolidate the three similar lawsuits into one.

Although he’s serving a prison term, Wells was in Island County jail last year. He had prevailed in a personal restraint petition challenging his convictions in another case. He was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a dangerous weapon on school grounds in a 2000 San Juan County case.

The case was remanded back to San Juan County Superior Court. Wells was transported to the Island County Jail, which holds prisoners for San Juan County under an interlocal agreement.

In the lawsuits, Wells claimed he requested a copy of jail rules regarding visitors, records about inmates’ placement in administrative segregation and a transcript of a disciplinary hearing. He claimed he didn’t receive any of the records, as required by law.

The sheriff’s office denies the claims. In a response to the first lawsuit, Jamieson wrote that the sheriff’s office never received the request.

In the second response, Jamieson wrote that Wells had withdrawn his request after being told the information was in the inmate rule book.

In the third response, Jamieson wrote that Wells was told a CD copy of the hearing would be placed in his inmate belongings and he agreed that was acceptable. He was unable to bring the CD with him back to prison directly because of state prison shuttle rules, but a friend later picked up the CD and belongings.

A trial on the lawsuits is scheduled for Jan. 17.

 

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