3) Humboldt Sheriff's Ken Swithenbank Retaliates Against Member of Public for Making Records Request

PDF icon Letter_about_Retaliation.pdf1.38 MB


Sheriff Gary Philp
Undersheriff Mike Downey
Humboldt County Sheriffs Department
Records Supervisor
Records Section Division
826 Fourth Street
Eureka, CA 95501

Via facsimile and certified US. mail

Re: Retaliatory Intimidation in response to request to inspect records pursuant to California Public Records Act, Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 6250 et. seq.


Dear Sirs/Madams:

On June 23, 2008, my request Pursuant to California Public Records Act, Cal Gov’t Code §§ 6250 et. seq. (dated June 16, 2008) was sent via certified mail and also hand delivered to your office(s).


On or about July 1, 2008, I received a letter from Humboldt County Undersheriff Mike Downey, indicating that additional time was needed by the Sheriff’s to provide a response to my request, and that the Sheriff’s Department “will issue the subject determination on or before July 21, 2008.” I expect to receive such determination in the mail by July 21, 2008.


My public records request provides phone contact “to arrange with Kevin McGrath a date and time at which below-described documents can be inspected” and reads “All responses and any other written correspondence pertaining to this request should be addressed to Kevin McGrath at the abovementioned address.”


This morning, July 3, 2008, Humboldt County Sheriff Deputy Swithenbank came to my home, inquiring about my public records request. He asked me why I made such a request and suggested that I should instead speak to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. In addition, Officer Swithenbank, in relation to the content of my public records request, which specifies “homeless and/or transient people, people sleeping and/or camping outside, and/or people sitting on public sidewalks” made discriminatory remarks to me this morning about such people.


It is my understanding and belief that Officer Swithenbank is not gathering public records, nor does he have any role in the records division. Officer Swithenbank’s visit to my home and his particular communications this morning were inappropriate, even if he were to have a role in the Sheriff’s Department records division or in the gathering of public records pursuant to my request.



Officer Swithenbank’s visit was intimidating to me, and was apparently done only for the purposes of intimidating me from proceeding with obtaining the records (requested on June 23, 2008) and intimidating me from any further such actions I may choose to take -in particular if my efforts relate to justice for homeless people, and/or those described in the paragraph above.


Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Swithenbank’s ‘visit’ to my home was nothing more than retaliatory intimidation in response to my lawful public records request. This retaliation is

improper, unlawful, and unacceptable behavior. My request for public record information does not fall within Deputy Swithenbank’s jurisdiction, but rather is a matter for the Records Division as dictated by California Statutes.




Kevin McGrath





cc: District Attorney, Paul Gallegos

     County Council

     KMUD News

     Jeffrey Schwartz, Attorney at Law

     Redwood Curtain CopWatch

     Northern California ACLU

     Tracy D. Herrin, Attorney at Law

     Office of Public Defender




Swithenbank is a corrupt bully.  His retaliation against you is probably actionable under 42 US Code § 1983 and I hope you sue his socks off.