I requested footage of her DUI arrest, so she sued me

In a comment on the Patreon post “Hothead,” supporter Purple Sprynkles wrote:

“If he really had an attorney that thought he had a case, the ATTORNEY would be the one to send the letter on the attorney’s letterhead.”

In response to Purple Sprynkles, I wrote:

“Number of letters I have received from people claiming to have retained counsel: I’d guess a dozen;

Number of letters I have received from counsel: zero.

Number of times I have been sued in relation to Real World Police: one.

Scratch that. Two. They were clearly memorable.”

Purple Sprynkles wanted to know more about the whole ‘getting sued’ thing. It’s now many months later and all of the numbers above have gone up, but Purple Sprynkles still deserves an answer. This video — and this text — are it.

Washington State has a strong access to public records statute: the Washington Public Records Act, or “PRA.”

The PRA allows for something called “third-party notice,” in which public agencies notify affected parties of a public records request. Agencies have wide discretion to decide whether and whom to (or not to) notify; notice is optional, and as long as an an agency acts in good faith, they can’t be held liable for failing to notify someone.

The main idea behind third-party notice is to allow affected people to go to court and obtain an injunction or protective order preventing the agency from releasing records where the release would impact them. The PRA permits a reasonable delay in providing responsive records in order to provide affected parties enough time to obtain a protective order. The requestor is a necessary party to any such lawsuit.

This woman sued me.

She lost.

A couple of notes at the beginning of this video direct you here. I’ll address them in the order they appear:

1. “Everything we do is a public record and we can’t not release it if someone specifically requests it.” – Sort of. Although that statement may technically be correct, it’s real-world incorrect. Every state’s access to public records statute creates exemptions for many – often 1,000+ – types of records and/or information within records. (Even though they are still, in many cases, technically ‘public records exempt from disclosure.’)

2. “The law right now, they have to have a specific reason for requesting video” – I know what he was trying to say, but that wasn’t it, since with limited exception, agencies may not inquire about the purpose of a request. The most common exception relates to the restriction that agencies may not sell or provide access to lists of individuals requested for commercial purposes. RCW 42.56.070(9).

3. “Somebody would have to say I wanna know this specific case about this specific person.” Actually, yes. And more. Under the PRA, a request for a body worn camera video must include

(a) the name of one of the people involved in the incident, and
(b) the incident or case number,

along with either

(c) the date, time, and location of the incident; or
(d) the name of a law enforcement or corrections officer involved in the incident.

Ms. Landvatter’s lawsuit didn’t get off to an auspicious start. Her attorney roared out of the gate by serving someone in Mississippi who happened to have the same name as me. He did put up a good fight, though, going so far as to to try and get the case heard by the Supreme Court of Washington. (Spoiler: they didn’t hear it.)

I have since requested a number of other videos from the same agency, and guess what? It seems that – two lawsuits later – they no longer provide third-party notice.

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34 thoughts on “I requested footage of her DUI arrest, so she sued me

  1. She couldn’t have been arrested by nicer people. The officer removed her cuffs, called her an attorney, counseled her on the dangers of driving DRUNK & handed her tissues for her crocodile tears. If I didn’t know any better I’d think that was her uncle & her brother or her grandparents in uniform. She hit the DWI jackpot. Not only did she not kill anyone or herself with her selfish stupidity but she was arrested by the Sheriff of Mayberry & his son Opie. In all seriousness these two rep the badge with honor & dignity-like the thousands of other good officers that will NEVER get any credit for serving & protecting with honor.

  2. I tried exactly what she’s doing before….it knows when you’re just filling your cheeks up with air….the cop kept saying “you’re not blowing hard enough, you’re not blowing hard enough.” Then he said its a .073! He let me know with a strong warning never drive buzzed again. Only because I was half a block from my house. But it must of gone on some record because I got pulled over 6 or 7 times again that year. I’ve yet to get a DUI and proud of it.

  3. I've never driven drunk and in the last 10 years I've only got drunk on a camping trip once. Before that I'd been drunk 2-3 times (metro and taxi home each time) and that last time I was sick on the guy I had a crush on for years, didn't drink again till that camping trip.

  4. And you never had a drink and then drove? Believe me I was on a PD for 27 years (got my pension for life and GTF OUT at 45!—ain’t shit they can do it me now!) and I know what a lot of you do. Hypocrites. Karma is real too.

  5. I would say getting pulled over for a DUI is trivial compared to severely injuring or killing someone because you’re driving under the influence. Now, I’m not saying getting pulled over for a DUI isn’t something to be upset about but hey, at least they got you off the road before you killed someone. And hopefully you’ll make a better choice next time.

  6. See you can’t make any mistakes in life. It’s scary. Everything goes on your record 4th amendment is dead and buried. So is the 6th and the first to a degree. Can’t make any mistakes. It really is scary

  7. For me as European in USA you have public right to drive after alkohol. In Europe you CAN'T drink even 1 beer becouse you most likle you will lost you driver license. Polish limits are max 0.3‰ and over 0.5‰ you made a crime and case is going to court, you will lost license for 100%. You can have 0.5‰ after one beer… So our streets are more safe than your ,,i walk straight" so im ok 🙂 I can't imagine going to bar and drink hmm 2 beers and go drive home… I know people who afeter 5 beers are ok and those who afert 2 cant walk straight.

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