Updated: Firebomb convict noted for prolific records requests dies

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WALLA WALLA — A prison inmate who gained fame through his use, and abuse, of the state public records access laws died Wednesday.

Allan Parmelee, 58, was pronounced dead about 6:24 a.m. at the Washington State Penitentiary. Walla Walla County Coroner Richard Greenwood said the preliminary cause of death was natural causes. An autopsy is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.

Parmelee was serving 17 years for firebombing the cars of two attorneys. During his time in custody, he filed hundreds of public records requests demanding judge’s, lawyers and correctional officers’ personnel records, photos, addresses, work schedules and birth dates. According to news reports, he once threatened to tear out a court reporter’s fingernails.

His attempts to use public records requests to harass people and government agencies spurred state legislators to pass a law in 2009 which was signed by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire just hours after it passed the Senate.

Under the bill, a court could block an inmate from requesting certain records if a judge found that the request is intended to harass an agency or its employees, or that fulfilling the request would threaten security or assist in criminal activity.

In a 2009 Seattle Times article, Attorney General Rob McKenna and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said Parmelee tied up their staff with requests that ranged from the bizarre to impossible.

Parmelee’s requests included surveillance video of cars parked in the King County Courthouse garage, photos of courthouse employees and for the personnel files of anyone who was involved in his criminal case.

In one five-month period in 2005, Parmelee made 788 records requests to the Department of Corrections, the Times reported.

Parmelee won a legal victory in 2010 when the state Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Corrections must pay his attorney’s fees after officials cited him under a criminal libel law, passed in 1869, and gave him 10 days in isolation.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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