Seattle Times Company v. Rhinehart

PETITIONER: Seattle Times Company
LOCATION: Dodge Main Plant

DOCKET NO.: 82-1721
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Washington Supreme Court

CITATION: 467 US 20 (1984)
ARGUED: Feb 21, 1984
DECIDED: May 21, 1984

Evan L. Schwab - on behalf of the Petitioners
Malcolm L. Edwards - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Seattle Times Company v. Rhinehart

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 21, 1984 in Seattle Times Company v. Rhinehart

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Seattle Times v. Rhinehart.

Mr. Schwab, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Evan L. Schwab:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This is an action for defamation and invasion of privacy.

The trial court, the Superior Court of King County, entered a protective order which bars the defendant newspapers and reporters from publishing certain types of information acquired during discovery.

The Washington Supreme--

Warren E. Burger:

Where were these papers filed at the time they were sought, Mr. Schwab?

Evan L. Schwab:

--Most of the discovery had not been completed at that point.

Some of the discovery--

Warren E. Burger:

Well, was it on file or not?

Evan L. Schwab:


The discovery we had received to that point had been filed.

Rhinehart, Mr. Rhinehart had furnished his income tax returns, and they had been filed with the public file in the King County Clerk's Office.

The Washington Supreme Court upheld the order, and we are asking this Court to reverse and remand because the order violates our clients' First Amendment rights of free expression.

The practical effect of the order below, we submit, is to enjoin--

Byron R. White:

Well, how about the rest of the answer to the Chief Justice's question?

Evan L. Schwab:

--I'm sorry.

Byron R. White:

The only things that you sought had been already been filed in the public record?

Evan L. Schwab:

Oh, I'm sorry, sir.

The information we had received at that point had been filed.

The protective order came up in connection with our motions to compel further discovery, and after long motions over their efforts to resist discovery and our efforts to get discovery, the trial court entered a broad order compelling significant discovery and at the same time entered the protective order in question.

We have not received that discovery because the trial court order provided that they did not have to comply with it until judicial review concerning the protective order was finished.

So at this point in time we don't have most of it.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, I'm afraid my question wasn't really clear enough.

Ordinarily, the returns on pretrial proceedings, discoveries, interrogatories, are not on file in the clerk's office.

They remain in the custody of the lawyers until they are offered in evidence.

Now, were these things that you were seeking in the possession of the clerk or still in the possession of the lawyers?

Evan L. Schwab:

Some of what we were seeking was in the possession of the clerk.

Most of what we were seeking hadn't been turned over yet and is still with the Respondents.